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Monday, February 16, 2015

Cannabis Law: Current Cases in the Michigan Supreme Court -by Rachel Bunting

     The Michigan Supreme Court currently has three cases on its plate concerning medical marijuana, all from Oakland County. 

     These cases revolve around medical marijuana patients who have been accused of possessing, growing, and selling medical marijuana. These hearings will hopefully find a way to make the laws protecting patients become less blurred.

      Richard Hartwick is scheduled to be first heard in front of the Supreme Court. Hartwick is accused of illegally growing and possessing marijuana. He was first charged in 2011, where a trial judge and the state Court of Appeals rejected his theory that possession of his card provided immunity from prosecution. According to a summary of the case on the Michigan Supreme Court website there are seven different issues being determined including whether ‘Hartwick’s entitlement to immunity is a question of law for the trial court to decide, whether factual disputes regarding immunity are to be resolved by the trial court and what a defendant’s evidentiary burned is to establish immunity or an affirmative defense’. Hartwick’s attorney, Fred Miller, told the court his client had not done anything wrong. There was no evidence that he sold marijuana to anyone else and he had less than four ounces in his possession, which is acceptable under section 4 of the law as Hartwick has five patients he is a caregiver to. Prosecutors, however, said that Hartwick had six more plants than allowed under the law and that his plants were not in a locked room. Hartwick’s case will be held in Lansing beginning Jan. 22nd and will be followed by the case of Robert Tuttle. 

     The case of Robert Tuttle is more complex in the fact that he was arrested for selling marijuana to an undercover officer. Tuttle is also using the defense that he believed his valid patient ID card entitled him to immunity and an affirmative defense. Four issues will be determined during this case. These issues include ‘whether a registered qualifying patient who makes unlawful sales of marijuana to another patient “taints all aspects of his marijuana-related conduct, even that which is permitted under the act”’. Tuttle is charged with the sale and production of marijuana and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. 

     The final case involves Cynthia Mazur who was arrested with her husband. Authorities found marijuana growing in the basement of their home. Mazur’s husband is a medical marijuana patient and caregiver to two other patients. Mazur is being charged with possession and manufacturing marijuana with intent to distribute, and her husband pled guilty to similar charges. Under the assumption that she is entitled to immunity as well, she has moved to dismiss the charges against her. The issue to be determined in this case is if Mazur is entitled to immunity because her spouse is a registered qualifying patient and caregiver. However it is also stated that the marijuana-related activities were not in full compliance with the Michigan  Medical Marihuana Act. Mazur has maintained that she did not help her husband “grow, transfer, deliver, feed or otherwise care for or deal with the medical marijuana plants”.

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