Monthly Archives: March 2014

DISMISSAL for a Medical Marijuana Patient

All too often, prosecutors refused to dismiss charged once they have been filed, despite an assessment of the circumstances. In other words, even when there is good cause, prosecutors often refuse to dismiss cases once they have been initiated.

This is all the more true when the client is charged with an alleged violation of the Medical Marijuana Act. For some reason, when it comes to patients using marijuana pursuant to a valid medical marijuana card, prosecutor’s are extremely resistant to dismissals – even when we have shown that they have met all of the elements under Section 4 or Section 8 of the Medical Marijuana Act.

Nevertheless, sometimes we are simply too convincing. Such was the case in Livingston County last month. After a lengthy discussion with the local city attorney, all charges against our client were dismissed outright. No temporary pleas, no appeals. Outright dismissals don’t happen very often, but we fight for them and are fortunate enough to get well more than our fair share.

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NOT GUILTY of drug and weapons charges!

In mid-December we went to trial on a case in Detroit, Michigan.

Our client was charged back in late 2012 of Possession of nearly 200 grams of cocaine and felony firearm. If he were convicted, he would have been looking at 5-8 years in prison.

However, we knew he was innocent.

The police had allegedly received an anonymous tip that someone was dealing drugs out of our client’s mother’s house in Detroit. Our client did not live at this house, but while his mother was in Florida, he was taking care of the home. The police busted into the home and found our client in the home in a towel (he was about to take a shower). They arrested him and conducted a search of the home.

At this point the “facts” get muddled. The police claimed that they caught our client walking down the stairs (coming from upstairs) and that when they searched the upstairs bedroom they found several guns, pictures of our client, a large amount of cocaine, paperwork proving our client lived at that house, and some cash. In fact, the police claimed that they found all of that “evidence” in and on top of a small end table on the side of a bed (wrapped up with a neat and tidy little bow too, right?)

However, our client claimed that the police did not catch him coming from upstairs, and that the guns were all legally registered and found throughout the house for protection (I mean it is Detroit after all) and that the cocaine was actually found by the police in the rafters in the basement. Further, he told us that many people stopped by and hung out at the home and that he had no idea that there was a bag of cocaine hidden away in the basement.

In other words, the police found a bunch of illegal items but had no way to actually connect our client to those illegal items (especially since the house doesn’t belong to him.)

Trial prep was arduous. We had to figure out a way to convince the jury that the police were lying about the location where all of the contraband was found, and we had to convince the jury that our client was being truthful about the fact that he didn’t know there were drugs in the home. We developed several lines of cross-examination for all of the officers and in the end Neil gave one of the best closing arguments he has ever given.

It was a 3 day jury trial and after about 2 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a NOT GUILTY verdict ON ALL COUNTS. It was apparent that the jury simply did not believe the police. Instead, they believed our client – when he testified that he did not know that someone was using his mother’s home as a stash house.

A Slew of Fantastic Results

We at Neil Rockind, P.C. have been extremely busy over the last few months wrapping up some of our cases and unfortunately I have not been able to update as much as I would have liked.

Over the past few months we have achieved a number of amazing results, including several outright dismissals, and a couple of Not Guilty verdicts!

Stay tuned for the details of these amazing results…

Michigan Senate moves to let landlords ban growing, smoking medical marijuana

LANSING, MI — Michigan landlords would have greater authority to prohibit tenants from smoking or growing medical marijuana under legislation advanced Tuesday by the state Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and approved in a 31-7 vote, would codify a 2011 opinion issued by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who said that hotel, motel or apartment building owners can ban the use of medical marijuana without violating the state’s voter-approved law.

Medical marijuana patients would be prohibited from growing or smoking the drug in violation of a written prohibition by their landlord under the bill. Michigan’s public health code makes marijuana use a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison and/or a $100 fine, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the legislation.

Jones, who requested the opinion from Schuette back in 2011, said landlords in his district have complained about medical marijuana patients who damaged rental units, tipped over grow lights and created unpleasant odors for neighbors.

“I had a call just a few days ago from an owner who was leasing a house,” said Jones. “He came back, they had cut holes in the walls, they had turned it into an entire greenhouse. There was moisture in the walls. Everything was damaged.”

State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) voted against the legislation after the Republican majority shot down her proposed amendment seeking to tie-bar the bill to a House-approved measure designed to legalize various forms of edible medical marijuana.

“Pot brownies” are not a usable form of the drug allowed under law, according to a recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which essentially banned “medibles” and other non-smokable forms of the drug.

“If the argument today really is that we want people to be able to take their medicine but not smoke in property they don’t own, there’s something this body could do about it,” Warren said.

Jones indicated he has no problem with the edibles proposal — “it’s probably much safer than smoking it and getting cancer,” he said — but argued that the bills are unrelated and should not be linked. Senate Majority Leader Richardville (R-Monroe) said he may hold a hearing on dispensary and edible medical marijuana legislation as soon as next week.

While contract law allows property owners to ban unwanted behaviors, including cigarette smoking or pet ownership, some landlords say they have been unsure whether the same rules apply for medical marijuana, which is used to treat health conditions they cannot always ask about.

Michelle Foley, who manages a townhouse community in Ann Arbor, recently told lawmakers that she has had two residents use their basements to grow medical marijuana. While she did not try to terminate their lease, she did not allow them to renew. Still, the “pungent odor” lingered long after one tenant left.

“We had to replace the carpeting throughout and we rented a commercial size ozone machine for five days,” Foley said, explaining that she spent an extra $280 cleaning the unit and lost out on roughly $1,900 in rent in the process. “The odor was still present so we had to have the ducts cleaned.”

While one notable marijuana advocate has downplayed concerns with the legislation, several others spoke out during a committee hearing last month, suggesting the bill would erode patient protections and potentially lead to criminal penalties for behavior currently protected by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008.

“These immunities were intended to protect patients in their employment, driving and housing, but all three protections have been squandered at one point or another,” said Thomas Lavigne, an attorney with the Cannabis Counsel in Detroit. “The state’s dishonest administration of the medical marijuana law, in every branch of government, proves that it lacks the compassion needed to administer such a law in practice.”

Denise Pollicella, a Howell attorney who has represented medical marijuana patients and landlords, said she agreed that property owners need wide berth to evict tenants who are causing damage but argued that the bill would have unintended consequences.

“This bill would truly made de facto police officers out of landlords and insert criminal penalties into what is currently consumer contract,” Pollicella said. “By removing protections of the Medical Medical Marihuana Act, you are telling them they are no longer patients or caregivers, and that places them squarely into our public health code as simply drug users at that point.”

Senate Bill 783 now heads to the House for consideration.

via MLive