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Monday, February 16, 2015

Medical Marihuana is Legal in Michigan. Why Are Patients and Caregivers Still being Persecuted? -by Daniel L. Price, Esq.

     The voters of the State of Michigan expressed their desire to provide for the use medical marihuana. Yet, the government is still prosecuting marihuana patients. Government actors do not recognize your right to self-determination. There are prosecutors who simply do not care about the MMMA, or local ordinances decriminalizing marihuana. Exhibiting their bigotry of marihuana users, and desire to force their own beliefs on others, they continue to prosecute patients and caregivers. 

     That is why we must fight for our rights. One way to fight is to understand the difference between illegal marihuana and legal medical marihuana. I approached MMMReport with the idea of this column to help people in this fight. I do this because I understand that freedom cannot be enjoyed, if we don’t fight for our right to self-determination, which includes the right to ingest marihuana. 

      Therefore, it is crucial to understand that the law distinguishes between marihuana, medical marihuana, and usable marihuana as well. Under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“the MMMA”), “marihuana means the term as defined by the Public Health Code. [MCL §333.26423(e)] According to the Public Health Code, “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., growing or not; the seeds; resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin. It does not include the mature stalks; fiber produced from the stalks; oil or cake made from the seeds; any other compound, manufacture, salt; or the sterilized seed which is capable of germination. [MCL§333.7106(3)]

      Clear as mud? Well, not so fast. If using marihuana for medicinal purposes, you must know what is “medical use”. Medical use means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, internal possession, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marihuana or paraphernalia related to administering marihuana to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms related thereto. [MCL §333.26423(f)] Simply, you must grow, acquire, possess, use, deliver and transport marihuana in accordance with the MMMA, in order to safely grow or use marihuana. 

      So how do you know if it’s usable or not? The MMMA says you may have an amount of usable marihuana that does not exceed 2.5 ounces. [MCL §333.26424(a)] The MMMA explains that “usable marihuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the marihuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant”. [MCL §333.26423(k)] 

      So cool, you are a registered patient, with 2.5 ounces of the choicest Gorilla Glue that replaced the last ounce of the stuff you used to make some butter. You made that butter infused with THC extracted from marihuana resin so you can eat some marihuana brownies. Hey, everybody likes brownies, right? You’re feeling good about yourself, a law abiding citizen, who just finished a delicious brownie. Suddenly, a hit squad of black clad badges with automatic weapons busts in your front door during a no knock raid, because of an anonymous tip. Talk about the fuzz killing the buzz, right?

      After you change your pants, you show your card and let officers inspect the 2.5 ounces of the Gorilla. Officers see brownies on the counter. Feeling good about your legal status, you explain those brownies were baked to get you baked. An officer laughs, and arrests you. They seize your marihuana, brownies, money, furniture, and your home. 

      A few weeks later, you’re before a judge who rules your brownies are not usable marihuana, because they were made with THC extracted from marijuana resin. [See People v. Carruthers, 301 Mich App 590, 837 NW2d 16 (2013)] As a result, you had a total amount of marihuana in the house that exceeded the 2.5 ounces allowed under the law. Therefore, you violated the controlled substances act and the MMMA, and are guilty of possessing a schedule 1 controlled substance. Worse, if you have any prior drug convictions, you now face a felony which could put you in jail for many years. 

      Let’s be clear. You can have medical marihuana in your possession. However, do not have more than 2.5 ounces, and do not have anything other than the dried flowers or buds. If you have 2.5 ounces, even a roach puts you over the limit and leaves you open to persecution, um, prosecution. Until this legal mess is cleared up, if it’s not part of a dried flower or leaf do not have it! Just like your mom used to tell you, “it’s better to be safe than sorry”. I suggest you keep no more than 1.25 ounces in your possession, just in case you have any roaches you forgot to burn. 

      Next month I’ll address the transportation of usable medical marihuana by patients and caregivers. Till then, keep rolling on.

     This article is intended for informational use only. If you are in need legal services, please contact a lawyer in person.

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