The First 24 Months of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act
In 2008, voters in Michigan supported a medical marijuana initiative, and this article covers its subsequent passage and implementation. As was to be predicted, the MMA has been the subject of several legal interpretations that have the makings of classics once applied to our species’ social fabric. Obtain the Best information about GOLD COAST CARTS.
On December 4, 2008, the Michigan Legislature enacted the MMA, making Michigan the 13th state to legalize the growing and possession of marijuana for medical purposes. The Act noted several discoveries connected to marijuana’s positive benefits in treating nausea, pain, and other side effects from various debilitating medical diseases. The Act further states that, according to the FBI, 99% of all marijuana possession arrests in the United States are made under state law rather than federal law. However, it should be noted that drug possession is still prohibited under federal law.
A “debilitating medical condition” is defined by the MMA as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, and other diseases, as well as other chronic afflictions that induce discomfort and nausea. A “primary caregiver” is “someone at least 21 years old and has agreed to assist with a patient’s medical marijuana use and who has never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs.” A “qualifying patient” is “a person a physician has diagnosed as having a debilitating medical condition.”
The Act’s rudimentary technicians require eligible patients and primary care providers (marijuana farmers) to have a “registry designation card” issued by the Department of Community Health. Tens of thousands of applications have been processed; many thousands are outstanding, with more being filed every week; the desire for marijuana certification appears to be unquenchable in Michigan.
Logically, there’s a huge demand. Cardholders are not arrested or prosecuted for marijuana possession/distribution if they store less than 2.5 ounces of smokeable marijuana. Care providers may keep up to 12 plants for each qualified patient; stems, seeds, and useless roots do not count against the plant limit.
Physicians are also immune from prosecution provided they certify the patient’s necessity for the prescription and conduct an examination of the patient’s medical history. Again, an excellent doctor-patient connection is essential.
Because the U.S. Since the Supreme Court decided the case of Conant vs. Walters in 2003, physicians have been authorized to recommend marijuana usage to patients (but cannot prescribe marijuana by placing the recommendation on a prescription form). Doctors can also make notes about their offers in the patient’s chart and testify in Court about a patient’s medical marijuana use. The Supreme Court’s Conant decision paved the path for the MMA’s passage.
Primary care providers may be compensated for marijuana use. The MMA also allows for the sale of marijuana paraphernalia, which cannot be seized.
Persons who are present while using marijuana for medical purposes are not arrested.
Does it sound too fantastic to be true? When marijuana is provided to non-eligible patients, the registration card is canceled, and the provider faces a 2-year felony charge. Driving under the influence of marijuana, as is smoking in public, is still prohibited. Using or possessing marijuana on school grounds or school buses remains unlawful. And regardless of your medical condition, smoking in jail or prison is still forbidden.
The Act mandated that the Department of Community Health issued regulations for administering the possession/distribution credential within 120 days. However, the delay in implementing these restrictions caused uncertainty among law enforcement, the general public, and some judges about what is legal and prohibited.
For example, in the 2009 Redden case from Madison Heights, a couple was caught during a drug raid. Before their arrest, the pair requested certification cards, which they obtained a month later. According to the Detroit News, 43rd District Judge Robert Turner described the MMA as “the worst piece of legislation I’ve seen in my life” in dismissing the case brought against the two defendants. The Oakland County Prosecutor appealed Judge Turner’s dismissal, which was upheld in the Oakland County Circuit Court.
The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld Oakland Circuit Court Judge Martha Anderson’s decision to revive the criminal charges against Redden and Clark earlier this year. As a result, the alleged Madison Heights couple must now either plead guilty or face trial.
During the raid on the couple’s home, the Oakland County Sheriff seized 1.5 ounces of marijuana, some cash, and roughly 21 little plants. Each defendant had taken a medical certification exam with Dr. Eric Eisenbud (not making this up) of Colorado (and the freshly created Hemp and Cannabis Foundation Medical Clinic) three weeks before the raid and applied for a medicinal marijuana card under the MMA. However, their cards had not yet been distributed during the attack.
The prosecutor argued during the couple’s preliminary hearing before Judge Turner that: a) the defendants were required to refrain from “medicating” with marijuana while their applications to the State of Michigan’s Department of Community Health were pending, and b) the defendants did not have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with Dr. Eisenbud.
According to Judge Turner, the MMA was unclear on what constituted an acceptable amount of marijuana. For example, in this case, the defendants were discovered with an ounce and a half of marijuana; the MMA allows for 2.5 ounces.
Judge Turner issued the following decision:
As a result, I believe section 8 entitles the defendants to dismissal even though they did not have a valid medical card. Section 8 states that if they can show that a doctor believed they would likely receive a therapeutic benefit, this doctor testified to that. In addition, Dr. Eisenbud is also a licensed physician in the state of Michigan. That is the only requirement in the statute. You do not need to be a physician; you need to be a licensed physician in Michigan.
As a result, Section 8 applies. And I am required to dismiss this case under Section 8 of the Act.
The prosecution appealed the district court dismissal to the Oakland Circuit Court under the applicable court rules. Judge Anderson reversed her district court counterpart, holding that Judge Turner behaved incorrectly as a fact finder in dismissing the case. Judge Anderson also questioned whether the couple could use the MMA’s affirmative defenses at all, citing their alleged failures to comply with the Act’s provisions, such as keeping the marijuana segregated and locked up and waiting until they received their cards from the Department of Community Health before growing their marijuana.
However, because the DCH had not yet begun issuing marijuana cards at the time of the Madison Heights bust, the pair could not have obtained them. Almost 30,000 certifications have been given to date.
The Court of Appeals held in their September 2010 ruling confirming Judge Martha Anderson that the MMA’s affirmative defenses were accessible to defendants even if they did not have their cards when their marijuana was confiscated. However, the Court of Appeals ruled against the defendants because their affirmative defense under the MMA was insufficient during their preliminary examination in district court, resulting in fact questions.
After the exam, the Court found the following fact issues unresolved: the bona fides of the physician-patient relationship; whether the amount of marijuana found in residence was “reasonable” under the Act; and whether defendants were using the marijuana for palliative purposes, as required by the Act.
The most intriguing aspect of the Court of Appeals’ Redden ruling is Judge Peter D. O’Connell’s caustic concurrence opinion. Judge O’Connell wrote separately because he would have narrowly narrowed the affirmative defenses allowed under the MMA and wanted to “elaborate” on some of the general discussion of the Act in the briefs and at oral argument.
He elaborated. Judge O’Connell’s 30-page judgment begins by noting that marijuana possession, distribution, and manufacturing remain federal crimes and that Congress has expressly stated that the plant has “no acceptable medical uses.”
court O’Connell writes in what will likely become a classic statement from his judgment, “I will attempt to cut through the haze surrounding this legislation.” The Court is suspicious that people are using marijuana to “medicate” and assumes they are taking it recreationally.
He also mentions the legislation’s poor quality, to the point that it clashes with other articles in the Health Code.
Judge O’Connell then takes a tour of the MMA’s legislative history. The measure was based on model legislation offered by lobbyists known as the Marijuana Policy Project of Washington, D.C. The group promotes both medicinal and recreational marijuana applications.
Judge O’Connell sees MMA as “confusion” and “a lot of it.” In one of his many footnotes to his judgment, the Judge warns against all marijuana usage until the Michigan Supreme Court settles the matter once and for all:
Suppose inhabitants of this state do not want to risk violating state law. In that case, they should avoid all marijuana usage until our Supreme Court issues a final complete interpretation of this statute. Again, I warn everyone: please do not try to interpret this Act alone. Reading this Act is like taking part in the Triwizard Tournament depicted in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: the maze that is this statute is so complicated that the conclusion will not be known until the Supreme Court has had an opportunity to review it and clear the haze from this Act.
“Wow,” would undoubtedly say Euan Abercrombie, a first-year student at Hogwarts.
The criminal defense bar, for its part, has gone crazy about the concurring opinion, with its several website references and images of marijuana marketing reacting through the listserv. But, conversely, the defense bar agrees that the majority opinion is accurate and that, in the end, Judge Anderson got it right; Redden was not the cleanest case to dismiss under the Act.
The Oakland County Sheriff and Prosecutor correctly predicted the Court of Appeal’s judgment in September. But, unfortunately, they undertook a series of clinic raids a few weeks before the Redden judgment, ruffling many feathers along the way.
Of course, an appeals leave application has been filed with the Michigan Supreme Court.
We have produced a legal guide for the MMA for anyone wanting to use marijuana for genuine palliative purposes under the Act for extra procedural guidance. Take notice, however, that at least one appellate Judge would have people managing chronic “pain” with prescription medications until our Supreme Court sorted out the medical marijuana problem.
Redden is not the only situation creating concern in the MMA community. Rodney Koon’s case has gained attention. Koon was convicted of a misdemeanor after admitting to police that he had used marijuana to “medicate” earlier in the day when he was stopped over. Koon also admitted to drinking a beer, although his blood alcohol level was below the legal limit. Koon is stuck with his conviction despite having a marijuana card at the time of his arrest because he lacks the cash to appeal.
Ordinances have sprung up throughout the state to limit the scope of the MMA. Bloomfield Hills, for example, approved a law in October mandating certified medicinal marijuana users with valid identification to register with the Bloomfield Township Police Department. The law also requires the “patient’s” driver’s license number and date of birth, if the patient owns or leases their home, and how many additional patients share their home to be submitted to the police.
Furthermore, the code restricts the number of medical marijuana patients who can dwell at one home and prohibits medical marijuana cultivation anyplace in Bloomfield Township. The ordinance is a 93-day misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine.
Bloomfield Hills is one of the numerous municipalities that have enacted policies that either limit the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Act or punish activities authorized by the Act.
The ordinance is now the subject of a lawsuit against the township by two cunning [their “clients” are John and Jane Doe] professional criminal defense lawyers, Tom Loeb and Neil Rockind. The action, probably headed to the Michigan Supreme Court, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief rather than monetary damages.
The MMA is being chastised township by township for a fundamental flaw: it is a masquerade for recreational marijuana users. Yes, there are actual medicinal marijuana users in abundance, and the MMA was created to assist them. But, unfortunately, there are also numerous “patients” whose medical records were skimmed over by a physician more interested in the high-volume review fees than in establishing if the person has an actual chronic medical condition as defined by the MMA. The LawBlogger asks how many certified users are under 25 among the tens of thousands of backlogged applicants; or are college youngsters whose primary chronic ailment is a desire to party down.
As these legal challenges work through the courts over the next two or three years, the MMA will be put to rest township by township. Attorneys Rockind and Loeb stated during their press conference announcing their complaint that the Bloomfield Hills policy cannot exist because it contradicts a lawful Michigan law.
While it is hardly the ideal example of neatly designed legislation and suffers from perception/deception issues, the MMA remains a recognized state law. Accordingly, the appellate courts shall invalidate ordinances that limit the scope of the Act or criminalize its legitimate goals.
The recent election was a setback for progressive marijuana policies. Proposition 19 in California was defeated by a margin of 56% to 44%. If passed, the proposed legislation would have been the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana usage.
The medicinal marijuana initiative failed in Arizona.
In California, the marijuana proposal failed because too few voters under 26 voted, and moderate voters opposed the plan. In addition, recent bloodshed in California and Arizona with Mexican drug gangs did not help either proposal.
In Michigan, conflicting messages are circulating about the subject. A massive marijuana exhibition, advertised as the world’s largest pot party, was canceled at the last minute in the Pontiac Silverdome.
All of this begs the question: do we need to legalize marijuana? Is ours a marijuana-smoking nation? Is it true that marijuana has palliative properties?
One of the significant perception issues with medical marijuana regulations is that people are merely going through the administrative steps to become “medically” certified to consume marijuana but are smoking recreationally.
Legislation that establishes restrictions that are seen as a farce accomplishes nothing. It could be preferable to legalize marijuana outright before regulating its production, sale, and distribution.
California was anticipating billions of dollars in marijuana-derived state income. In Michigan, there remains uncertainty over who can legally produce marijuana and how it should be grown and given to “patients.” Three days after the midterm elections, the question in Arizona is too close to call.
So, what exactly are they smoking? That’s what Detroit-based Cannabis Counsel lawyer Matthew Abel is asking of the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, which met earlier this year, in January, to discuss a package of bills that would amend the public health code to require pharmacists to dispense medical marijuana and classify medical marijuana as a schedule 2 controlled substance.
“It appears that if the legislature ever passed these bills,” Abel said, “they would conflict with the medical marijuana statute.” “So they’d need a 3/4 vote to supersede the law, and you know that they can’t even get 3/4 of the legislature to agree on lunch, let alone this.”
According to Southfield-based lawyer Michael Komorn, who also serves as treasurer for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, the bills are similar to those introduced last year; last year, the bills, which would have allowed ten marijuana growing facilities to be affiliated with a pharmacy, failed to gain traction.
The measures introduced this year would effectively render all manufacturing of medical marijuana illegal while usage would remain lawful, according to Komorn.
“It’s like the Stamp Act, arcane and without any understanding of what is going on with patient needs,” Komorn added. “The bottom line is that this is an attempt to repeal Michigan’s medical marijuana act.”
Abel believes that requiring medical marijuana dispensing through pharmacies is unrealistic.
“They don’t have a supply, and there’s no way for them to get it; there’s simply no way for them to do it,” Abel explained.
Still, he’s at ease knowing that the measures are doomed to fail and are more concerned with political popularity than with the Michigan medical marijuana statute.
Now that the MMA has been there long enough to generate fascinating cases and disputes, we must wait until one makes its way through the Michigan Supreme Court to gain a complete sense of the law. Our blog believes that the MMA is faulty and thus vulnerable to failure as long as it may be used to conceal recreational marijuana use. So perhaps the most logical thing to do now is what Peter Tosh has asked for worldwide: l it.