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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Michigan News for September 2015 - by Rachel Bunting

5 Marijuana Cases Dismissed
     Thanks to a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court, at least five cases in St. Clair County involving medical marijuana are no longer viable, and have been dismissed. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Court’s decision “clarified when caregivers and users are able to use their medical marijuana certification as a defense or immunity if charged with a marijuana-related crime.” One of the cases dismissed involved Ginnifer Hency, a woman whose case had previously gained national attention when she asserted that officers had seized a sex toy in their raid; something the Sheriff claims is “absolutely not true”.

     Hency was arrested and her property seized after informing the Drug Task Force members about six ounces of marijuana she possessed in a locked bag that she had intended to exchange for a different strain with another caregiver to distribute to her patients. However, after the Supreme Court ruling, St. Clair County Prosecutor Michael Wendling would need specific evidence in those cases to procure the verdict they were looking for, and in at least five of those cases the evidence was not there to do that. Since the five cases will be dismissed, all items seized under civil forfeiture laws will be returned, this includes Hency’s Chevy Impala, two iPhones, her iPad, and a ladder (the sex toy was never listed on any forfeiture seizure list).

     While Hency is appreciative of the dismissal, she is interested in seeking damages as she claims she has had trouble finding employment because of the pending criminal charges. Hency doesn’t feel the case is completely finished and says she will consider the ordeal over when she finally gets her stuff back. The other cases dismissed involved Austin Ray, Ryan Jackson, Thomas Cook, and Kevin Lindke.


Please, Stay in Compliance
The Michigan State Police are stressing the importance of education after two separate licensed medical marijuana caregivers were discovered to be operating outside the perameters set by the MMMA. The Huron Undercover Narcotics Team discovered and seized over 65 plants, which were growing in an unsecured area. Lt. Stuart Sharp of the Alpena Michigan State Police said, “Plants have to be secured and these plants were accessible by other parties. It is disturbing that you can somewhat happen upon some of these (grows) and get into them. It creates a dangerous situation when they are not secured. We’ve had times when people have been assaulted or home invasions (have occurred) for the marijuana.”

     The investigation into the grow operations remains ongoing and prosecuting attorneys still need to decide whether to pursue charges against the operators, which will determine if any arrests will be made in the case. Nine other medical marijuana plots were inspected but found to be within compliance. Sharp said caregivers should schedule appointments with detectives at the MSP to make sure grow operations are within legal perameters. He informed The Alpena News: “Once inspected we would try to get them into compliance and it would not be an enforcement if it was a minor violation. Education is important.”

 Marijuana Tracking
Under new legislation in the Michigan House, marijuana sold in dispensaries would be tracked from “seed to sale”. MJ Freeway Business Solutions, a tracking software company based in Colorado that may eventually bid for Michigan’s tracking contract, believes marijuana “requires a very unique inventory tracking system to maintain a clear chain of custody and to prevent diversion”. They feel tracing medical marijuana can improve patient and product safety by ensuring strains are properly identified, testing is completed, and that the dosage is consistent. There are concerns from some in government that the cost of the tracking system would be too much and would fall onto the shoulders of the consumers thus encouraging them to purchase through illegal channels to avoid the increased charge. The House Judiciary Committee have not voted on the medical dispensary or tracking bills and discussions are expected to continue at a later date.

Cannabis for Autism Denied
 Mike Zimmer, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), rejected the advice of a state panel to allow medical marijuana as a treatment for autism. The disappointing news comes after three years of efforts by lawyers, parents of autistic children, and supporters to have Michigan become the first state to put autism on its list of acceptable conditions for medical marijuana treatment. In his rejection, Zimmer claims that the allowance might do more harm than good as there is nothing to specify the level of autism a child must have to receive the treatment meaning it could be given to children with only mild forms of autism. He also says there is insufficient scientific research to validate using marijuana for autism, which, as one supporter pointed out, is the case for most of the conditions approved under the state law because most marijuana research has been illegal under state and federal laws.

Zimmer also notes that he is concerned parents may administer the medication in violation of state laws by giving the children another form of cannabis other than smoking or eating the plant, which are currently the only legal ways of treatment with the plant. There is a bill the House Judiciary Committee has had since February that would alter the MMMA to allow for other forms of medical marijuana. Currently Michigan and Montana are the only states with a medical marijuana program that do not offer alternative means of using the medication.

2015 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup
August 22nd and 23rd was definitely a high point for the thousands of people who attended the Cannabis Cup held at Auto City Speedway in Clio. This celebration of all things cannabis saw beautiful weather for the kick off, and persisted throughout Saturday. Tons of vendors were there, offering everything from T-shirts and jewelry to genetics and grow supplies. Food was plentiful, with a variety to cuisine to suit any palate. There was even a medicated hot wing stand. Overall, the vibe was laid back and peaceful. People of all walks of life made their way to the Cup that weekend, not only from Michigan but from at least a dozen other states. Many cup attendees weren’t even swayed when the rain hit later on Sunday, with hundreds of attendants seeking shelter in the chill areas, staying dry under the tents set up there. Although the official awards ceremony did not happen due to the weather, High Times promptly announced the winners over the PA, and has posted the results on their web page. For a list of the top three winners in each category, refer to the spread toward the back of this issue. We also have a special edition of ‘The Wall’ this month, featuring exclusive pics from the Cup.

     High Times has announced that they will hold another cup in 2016 at the Speedway in Clio. This will be the 3rd year in a row that Clio, Michigan will host such an event, a bragging right usually reserved for much larger cities such as Denver and Amsterdam.

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