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Troy MI License Restoration Blog

Monday, August 24, 2015

Supreme Court Ruling on Medical Marijuana Effectively Nullifies Hundreds of Pending Possession Charges

What is the impact of the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling on medical marijuana?

Legal medical marijuana laws – and their intersection with unlawful recreational possession – have caused something of a conundrum for Michigan residents, particularly with regard to several unsettled grey areas involving medicinal marijuana providers and legitimate therapeutic use.

In August, 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court was again faced with an appeal by a woman with a valid prescription from medical marijuana who nonetheless endured humiliation and hardship after her personal assets were seized and she endured the stigma of a pending narcotics charge. In this case, justices were required to determine the level of evidence necessary to allow a defendant the opportunity to invoke a medical marijuana defense to a possession with intent to distribute charge. After clarification of this threshold, dozens of Detroit-area cases were dismissed for lack of evidence – and presumably hundreds more statewide.

More specifically, the Michigan Supreme Court grappled with a scenario in which a professional provider was dispensing marijuana to patients but was not enrolled or connected through the state’s official provider network. At his trial, the doctor sought to introduce evidence that he is a valid medical provider dispensing much-needed therapy to patients with conditions like multiple sclerosis. His defense was overruled, however,  because he did not have the proper paperwork and had not followed the proper protocol for enrollment. In sum, the trial court held that, regardless of his actual status as a therapeutic provider, the lack of supporting documentation worked to trump any legitimate defense.

The Supreme Court contradicted the lower court's ruling, finding that while a provider may face sanctions or administrative reprimand (i.e., license suspension) for failing to properly enroll in the state’s therapeutic provider network, this fact alone is insufficient to render the provider guilty of marijuana possession. More specifically, the court held that “[compliant] conduct is not automatically tainted by the defendant’s improper conduct related to a different charged offense unless there is a nexus between the improper conduct and the otherwise proper conduct.”

If you are facing a difficult or complicated situation involving a marijuana possession charge and would like to speak an experienced attorney, please contact the Michigan offices of Martin T. Lievois today in Flint at 810-250-4550 or in Troy at 248-419-1566.


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