Michigan Supreme Court rules medical marijuana law protects patients from prosecution

The Michigan Supreme Court, in its first major ruling on a case arising out of the use of medical marijuana, said today that the voter-approved law provides relatively broad legal protection from prosecution, even for patients who do not register for a state medical marijuana card.

In a pair of cases out of Oakland and Shiawassee counties the court ruled unanimously that lower court interpretations of the marijuana statute had been too restrictive.

In the Oakland County case, the court said the law allows a person arrested on a marijuana-related offense to assert a medical marijuana defense, as long the use of marijuana was recommended by a doctor after the law was enacted in 2008 and before the arrest. Unfortunately for the defendant in the case, Alexander Kolanek, the court said he could not avail himself of the so-called affirmative defense because his doctor’s recommendation was post-arrest.

In the Shiawassee case, the Supreme Court said defendant Larry King was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the question of whether his medical marijuana was kept in a secure facility as defined by the law.

Detroit-area medical marijuana advocate Tim Beck, who had not yet reviewed the decision this afternoon, said it sounded like the Supreme Court had overturned some of the more onerous and mis-guided interpretations of the law by the lower courts.

The state Court of Appeals, Beck said, had taken “way too narrow a view…not something that could be construed as the plain meaning of the law.”



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