MI Court of Appeals hears arguments in medical marijuana dispensary cases

Michigan’s Court of Appeals (COA) heard oral arguments on August 6 pertaining to several cases in which medical marijuana patients and/or caregivers are alleged to have sold medical marijuana, in 2010, to undercover officers who were posing as legitimate patients.

Law enforcement authorities and the Oakland Co. prosecutor’s office have claimed that the Clinical Relief employees and associates were operating an illegal dispensary. The attorneys for the Clinical Relief defendants filed motions to dismiss their criminal charges based on the common law rule of lenity. They argued that, at the time the alleged illegal acts occurred, Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) was ambiguous regarding patient-to-patient sales of medical marijuana and that their clients did not receive a fair warning that their dispensary activities were unlawful.

At the time of the raid conducted at Clinical Relief, no published appellate opinions had been issued regarding the legality of patient-to-patient sales of medical marijuana in Michigan.

On January 11, 2012, Oakland County Circuit Judge Daniel O’Brien agreed with the defense and held that the rule of lenity was applicable to the facts of their cases. He then dismissed all charges brought against Anthony Agro, Barbara Agro and Nicholas Agro, Ryan Richmond, Barbara Johnson, Ryan Fleissner, and Matthew Curtis.

The prosecutor appealed Judge O’Brien’s dismissals in the Clinical Relief case to the COA, who held oral arguments in the matter on August 6, 2013. (This reporter videotaped the People v Clinical Relief oral arguments, which are streaming online at: http://vimeo.com/71930675 )

In a somewhat related appeal, also heard by the COA on August 6, the defense in the case of People v Jason VanSickle argued that Judge O’Brien erred when he declined to dismiss similar charges filed against his client. VanSickle allegedly sold medical marijuana to undercover officers outside of the Clinical Relief facilities. The Oakland Press reported on July 15, 2011 that Van Sickle’s defense attorney, Jim Rasor, said “VanSickle assumed undercover detectives, who had patient cards, were legitimate medical marijuana patients.” (This reporter also videotaped the People v VanSickle oral arguments, which are streaming online at: http://vimeo.com/71937695 )

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Walton represented the prosecution in the Clinical Relief appeal. The Clinical Relief defendants were represented in the trial court by attorneys Thomas Loeb, Cheryl Carpenter, Neil Rockind, Steve Fishman, Paul Tylenda, Jerry Sabota, and Matt Shepherd. They defendants were also represented by appellate attorney Stuart Friedman.

It is unknown at this time how long the COA will take to release its opinions in the Clinical Relief and VanSickle cases.

via The Examiner

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