Category Archives: Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Dispensary DISMISSAL!

As of right now there is only one medical marijuana dispensary criminal case that has been outright dismissed without the possibility of the case being recharged, or of an appeal reversing the dismissal decision – and that case is our case.

Unfortunately, per the agreement with the State, many of the details are sealed. However, I can divulge that our client was an owner and operator of a medical marijuana dispensary in Southeastern Michigan. That dispensary was raided by police and ultimately our client was charged with felonies for distribution of marijuana.

We held the preliminary examination and ultimately, armed with the transcripts from that examination, we set about the task of writing nearly 100 pages of motions and briefs.

As soon as we sent over the motions and briefs to the prosecutor’s office, they called us and waived the white flag. The case didn’t even get out of the District Court. No appeals, no re-charging. Just the complete DISMISSAL of a felony case against a medical marijuana dispensary.

THE TASTE OF VICTORY IS SWEET!

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Mistrial Due to a Hung Jury

Not a single lawyer in Oakland County, Michigan has taken a medical marijuana case to trial with a Section 8 Defense and walked away with a “Not Guilty.”

We came closer last week than anyone else has before when a jury refused to come to a decision and the Judge declared a mistrial.

Our client, a Medical Marijuana Patient, was found in possession of just over 20 ounces of marijuana. Pursuant to the Medical Marijuana Act, he was not allowed to possess more than was reasonably necessary to treat his qualifying medical condition. After a lengthy Section 8 hearing, the Judge agreed that we had presented enough evidence to take the medical marijuana defense to the jury (which is a rarity in and of itself.)

The trial last 5 days and the jury deliberated for almost 3 full days before finally deciding that they were too deadlocked to reach a decision one way or the other. The jurors couldn’t decide: 1) Whether or not our client intended to distribute marijuana, or 2) whether our client possessed more than was reasonably necessary to treat his qualifying condition. The jury split was right down the middle – meaning 6 jurors believed he was guilty of something and 6 jurors believed he was entirely innocent.

We have no idea what the future holds with regard to this case, but one thing is for certain: We were able to convince at least 6 people on that jury that our client did not intend to distribute his marijuana and did not possess more than was was reasonably necessary. Hopefully the next time – we will convince all 12!

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.

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

Jackson police officials say they’ll allow possession of marijuana on private property after public vote

JACKSON, MI – Jackson law enforcement and city officials have a plan to enforce a new marijuana ordinance that they believe falls within the spirit of the law.

A law passed in November via a 2,242-1,434 votedecriminalizes up to an ounce of marijuana on private property for those age 21 and older within the city.

Jackson Police Chief Matthew Heins said the city police department has advised its officers to follow the new law.

“First and foremost, it was my objective to enforce what voters voted on,” Heins said. “We struggled with some details in the law, but it’s the law.”

Some of the subjects in the law Heins and others debated were what constitutes private property.

“Target is private property, for example,” Heins said. “But we don’t think it was the public’s intention to allow a 21-year-old to possess marijuana at your local Target.”

The proposal changed the city’s code of ordinances to read “none of the provisions of this division shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana on private property by a person who has attained the age of 21 years.”

Heins said it’s unclear whether people will be allowed to sell marijuana on private property under the new law.

“We haven’t come up with all the answers,” he said.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka said his office will continue to prosecute state law violations as they always have.

“If city police bring a warrant request over a state law we will review it,” he said. “The reality is federal and state laws still supersede city ordinances.”

Heins said JPD officers will still be allowed to enforce state statutes regarding marijuana, but will have to justify their actions and “keep in mind the voice of the people.”

“If we have known drug dealer with multiple convictions who has one ounce or less, there’s a chance we’ll still enforce state law,” Heins said. “There will always be extenuating circumstances.”

via MLive

Michigan Senate looks to move medical marijuana into pharmacies, licensed manufacturing facilities

LANSING, MI — Michigan’s Republican-led Senate is considering a plan to create a new system for regulating and distributing medical marijuana.

Legislation introduced by Sen. Roger Kahn and co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville seeks to reclassify medical marijuana, license facilities to grow the drug and distribute it through authorized pharmacies.

The system, which would require federal approval before it could be implemented, would treat marijuana as a Schedule II drug, similar to OxyContin or Percocet.

“Marijuana, if it’s to be medical marijuana, should be held to the standard of medical safety and of dosage predictability,” said Kahn, R-Saginaw Township.

Senate Bill 660 would not replace or change Michigan’s voter-approved medical marijuana law, according to Kahn, but it would create an independent “pharmaceutical-grade cannabis” registry.

Patients and caregivers certified to use or grow plants under current law could continue to do so, but those who want to be part of the pharmaceutical registry would have to surrender their old cards and would not be authorized to grow or distribute the drug.

The Senate Government Operations approved the measure in a 3-0 vote, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, did not vote on the bill, indicating she was uncomfortable supporting a proposal contingent upon future approval from the federal government.

Richardville, R-Monroe, said he generally supports medical marijuana but does not think voters got what they bargained for when they approved the current law in 2008.

“There are people out there growing things irresponsibly and people getting sick because of it,” he told reporters earlier Tuesday. “It’s getting into school yards and school kids hands. I wouldn’t call that a system. I would call that a problem.”

Rick Thompson, a magazine publisher with the Michigan chapter of Americans For Safe Access, said allegations of tainted medical marijuana leading to sickness are “a smoke screen” for an attempt to undermine the patient-caregiver system that allows certified residents to grow their own.

“Cannabis never killed anyone in Michigan, and we’ve had the law for five years,” Thompson said. “There’s been no testing, but yet there have been no illnesses.”

Under the newly-proposed system, the Michigan Department of Community Health would be tasked with licensing, registering and inspecting pharmaceutical-grade marijuana manufacturing facilities.

DCH could charge a “reasonable fee” for performing those functions, and would be required to create an online database listing licensed facilities.

Anyone wishing to manufacture, distribute, prescribe or dispense marijuana would have to obtain a license from the Michigan Board of Pharmacy, as already required for other controlled substances.

Former Republican state House Speaker Chuck Perricone, who now represents a company licensed to manufacture medical marijuana in Canada, testified in support of the bill and suggested the state should also tax the drug.

“The market for this is virtually untapped,” Perricone said. “The potential for the product is tremendous.”

via MLive