The State Crime Lab Should GO!
There has been a lot of outrage in recent months over accusations that the Michigan State Police are falsifying test results in order to get marijuana convictions. Which, if it’s true, is a very disturbing concept indeed. But a group of local medical marijuana defense attorneys are not content to hope for the best. They want action. And they want the state crime lab removed from the State Police.
Michael Komorn and Neil Rockind, a pair of defense attorneys who regularly defend those convicted of medical marijuana related crimes, have filed a federal complaint against the lab. Their hopes are that the complaint would instigate an independent investigation into the policies and procedures of the crime lab. And in the process, uncover whether or not the MSP is bending the truth in their favor.
This all began because of a recent policy, which requires that the crime lab treat any and all THC that they are not absolutely certain comes from a plant, as synthetic. And while this may not sound like much of a big deal, it is. Because, for those people accused of producing or selling synthetic cannabis, as opposed to the kind grown as a plant, the charges are far more severe.
According to Kormorn, the fact that the state police, the state crime lab and the prosecutor’s office are all intertwined, is deeply unfair to the defendants. And technically, he’s right. As it stands, the public defender’s office receives considerably less funding than the prosecutor’s office, ostensibly because the burden of proof falls to the prosecutor.
But when the prosecutor is holding hands with both law enforcement and the crime lab, like some kind of mythical three headed serpent, the defendant is facing a formidable adversary. And the deck is stacked in favor of the accuser.
There have been a recent rash of felony charges against people around Michigan who were growing medical marijuana, but were later accused of producing synthetic marijuana. As a result, the charges they faced were much more serious. And all of the evidence supporting these charges was based on test results from the state crime lab.
According to a press release from MSP, “Michigan state police laboratory policy was changed to include the statement ‘origin unknown’ when it is not possible to determine if THC originates from a plant (marihuana) or by synthetic means. This change makes it clear that the source of the THC should not be assumed from the lab results.”
What remains to be seen now, is whether or not this federal complaint will lead to decisive action and subsequent change, or simply a long drawn out political battle where all of the casualties are civilian. Only time will tell.