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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Michigan News for January 2016 - by MMM Report Staff

 MSP Misreporting Test Results
Several attorneys have begun filing complaints against the Michigan State Police for misrepresenting marijuana test results which could have left many serving higher sentences than what they deserved. The complaints claim tests that find marijuana are being reported as synthetic THC or a schedule one controlled substance which is a felony instead of a marijuana-related misdemeanor. The Michigan State Police Public Affairs Manager, Shannon Banner, calls the complaints “bogus” and said, “After this discussion period, the decision was made to begin using the phrase ‘origin unknown’ for samples where the source of the THC could not be scientifically proven to originate from a plant-based material. It should be pointed out that ‘origin unknown’ does not mean the sample is synthetic THC; it only means the lab did not determine the origin and the source of the THC should not be assumed from the lab results.” A lawyer who filed a complaint believes the change in the way THC is characterized was politically motivated with influence from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan. Complaints were filed with the National Institute of Justice because grant money given to MSP to expedite testing results has been used.
Decriminalization Sticks in Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids: An amendment approved in 2012, which made possession or sharing of marijuana a civil infraction, including no jail time and possible fines between $25 and $100, was challenged by Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth. According to Michigan Radio, Forsyth claimed the amendment was an “illegal restriction on his power to enforce state drug laws, which continue to make marijuana possession a crime.” He made this claim because the amendment also prohibited police officers from transferring cannabis cases to the Prosecutor’s office.

     The Michigan Supreme Court did not agree with Forsyth and allowed the amendment to stand when they refused to take his case stating, “…we are not persuaded that question presented should be reviewed by this Court.” The refusal came after the Kent County Circuit Court and Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against the Prosecutor and he took his appeal to the Supreme Court of the State. While two of the Justices in the Court would like to have heard the case, they were not in the majority and the amendment stands.

Detroit Medical Marijuana Ordinance
Detroit: On December 17th Detroit City council passed an ordinance to regulate dispensaries within the city limits. The ordinance goes into effect in March, but according to Richard Clement, a staffer for Council Pro-temp George Cushingberry Jr, the Detroit legal department is drafting a referendum to overturn the ordinance. Mr. Clement has expressed concern about the ordinance because it will force many existing dispensaries out of business when it is implemented.   Zoning restrictions limit where dispensaries can be within the city, pushing them mostly in to the industrial section.

     Several dispensary owners have came together help try to resolve the issue but if a referendum doesn’t gather 4055 signatures by January 17th, then the fate is sealed for many of the dispensaries.

Storage Unit Grow Causes Explosion
Manlius Township: An explosion at a storage facility, which injured one man and killed his dog, came from a grow operation in one of the units at the site. The man who owned the operation, and would not give his name, was not there when the explosion occurred but claims the grow has been going on for a few years and was completely legal. Police believe the blast stemmed from a small propane tank that was being used to heat the unit. According to 24 Hour News 8, the man who rented the unit kept the plants there because he felt it was “nicer to keep it out of neighborhoods”. The burst was heard over 13 miles away, flattened 4 storage units, and shattered the windows of some houses nearby.

A Bill to Protect Employees
Lansing: A bill introduced by state Representative Sam Singh would protect medical marijuana patients from being fired due to “drug-free” policies. Medical marijuana firings have become a problem in many states where the plant is legal for medical reasons, but House Bill 5161 would prevent future terminations in Michigan. Singh supported other bills when the House made changes to the marijuana system earlier this year, but felt job protections were left out of the discussion and need to be addressed. Michigan Radio quotes Singh as saying, “…we didn’t really talk about the rights of the individual. And that was something that I felt that we should have had a conversation on. Unfortunately we didn’t.” He went on to explain he introduced the bill to start a conversation on the subject within the House.

Tashina and Taylor
Emmet County, Michigan: Patient Tashina Worthington plead guilty December 17, 2015 to one count of maintaining a drug house after a long battle with Emmet County. It all began when the house she shared with her boyfriend, Ben Taylor, was raided by SANE on April 7, 2015. SANE officers kicked down the couple’s door at 7pm with a warrant to search the residence. They pulled books off the shelf, precious trinkets and desecrated the ashes of the couple’s stillborn baby.  They had guns held to their heads  and were questioned without access to a lawyers for hours. The couple was releases and left to go about their business. In late August, the couple was woken up by police officers once again, as they entered the home only this time with warrants for their arrest.

     Law enforcement arrested the couple and charged them both with 2 counts of delivery manufacturing (claiming they had delivered to an unqualified patient) and one count of felony fire arms for possessing hunting guns where they were growing cannabis. After a long battle with Emmet County and prosecutor Fenton (who seems more interested in tying one on after work than prosecuting according to the law), Worthington and Taylor were advised to take a plea because of the guns and Judge Johnson not liking them in the same place as cannabis. Both were promised pleas with no jail time and so the proceeded to plea guilty.

     However, Taylor had priors from a history with substance abuse and the court pulled his no jail time plea and sentenced him to four months jail time this Christmas on December 10th. A week later, Worthington was sentenced to one year probation and 100 hours of community service. Family members in the case believe that the couple was treated rather harshly for trying to follow the medical marijuana act. The family and the couple feels traumatized and set-up. Taylor and Worthington feel set-up and neither patient can understand why the state offered them an avenue for which to do this only to ruin their lives months later. “I just don’t think I needed to be treated this way,” Worthington says, “I wanted to help people and I was taken advantage of by a family member who was trying to get out of their own legal problems.”

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