Michigan Medical Marijuana Attorneys
2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act
We tenaciously defend a patient’s rights relating to Medical Marijuana. We practice Medical Marijuana defense throughout Michigan. This includes Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Farmington Hills.
In November of 2008, Michigan voters passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). This law allows for the medical use of marijuana in the state of Michigan. (Beware that all non-medical use is still illegal in Michigan; if arrested for Marijuana use, Marijuana possession, or Marijuana Distribution, you will need a Michigan Drug Attorney. The reason given for passing the MMMA was to treat a patient’s pain or other systems associated with their medical condition.
Under the MMMA, there are two types of people who are allowed to handle medical marijuana. The first is the patient who uses medical marijuana to help with his or her medical problems. In order to qualify for protection under the MMMA, the patient must be diagnosed by a physician to be suffering with a “debilitating medical condition,” including: cancer; glaucoma; HIV; AIDS; hepatitis C; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Crohn’s disease; Alzheimer’s disease; nail patella; or a disease that causes cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms; or any other condition authorized by the state of Michigan.
The other person allowed to handle medical marijuana is a patient’s primary caregiver. Sometimes, patients are too sick or unable to handle growing or obtaining their own medical marijuana, so they choose to get a primary caregiver to oversee that task. To qualify as a primary caregiver, the person must be at least 21 years old, must agree to assist with a patient’s medical use of marijuana, and must not have a felony drug conviction on his or her record. A primary caregiver may assist up to 5 patients at any given time and may charge a reasonable fee for their services.
Section 4 Immunity
The MMMA actually allows for two ways to receive protection from legal action when a patient uses medical marijuana. The first way is what is called Section 4. Under Section 4, a patient goes to see a physician and gets a written statement from the physician that says the patient would benefit from medical marijuana. The patient then sends in the physician’s written statement, along with some other forms and a fee, to the Michigan government.
If the application is complete, the government sends back to the patient a registry identification card. Once the patient receives the registry identification card, or after 20 days of the Michigan government not responding to a patient’s application, the patient is allowed to possess marijuana they will be using for medical purposes. If the patient chooses to have a primary caregiver grow their marijuana, the patient may only possess 2.5 ounces or less of usable marijuana.
The primary caregiver must have a registry identification card for each of his or her patients and can only possess 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana and 12 or less marijuana plants per patient. The plants must be kept in an “enclosed, locked facility,” which is an enclosed area with security devises that only permit access by the patient or their primary caregiver. If the patient chooses not to have a primary caregiver grow their marijuana, the patient may only possess 2.5 ounces or less of marijuana and up to 12 plants.
If a patient or caregiver has a registry information card, and they don’t exceed the maximum allowable amount of marijuana, there is a presumption that they are using the marijuana for medical purposes and therefore cannot be prosecuted for a Michigan marijuana crime because of the protection they receive under Section 4.
Section 8 Affirmative Defense
The second way to receive protection under the MMMA is by the affirmative defense under Section 8 of the medical marijuana law. Under Section 8, if a person is caught with marijuana but they don’t have a registry identification card, they may still have some protection under the statute. In summary, a defendant can argue that if they would have applied for a registry information card, they would have been approved.
In order to be protected under Section 8, the patient or their primary caregiver must show three things. The first thing is that after completing a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current condition, a physician who is in a “bona-fide” physician-patient relationship with the patient has stated that the patient is likely to benefit from using medical marijuana to treat the patient’s condition. This statement from the physician must occur between the time of the enactment of the MMMA and the defendant’s marijuana offense.
The second thing the patient or their primary caregiver must show is that the patient and their primary caregiver were in possession of an amount of marijuana that was “reasonably necessary to ensure the uninterrupted availability of marijuana” to treat the patient’s medical condition. The third thing the patient or their primary caregiver must show is that they were only growing, possessing, using, transporting, or delivering the marijuana for purposes of the patient’s medical use.
The Michigan legislature intentionally made the Section 8 protections an affirmative defense. This makes it harder to receive the statutory protection than if a patient simply has a registry information card issued under Section 4.
Defending a Case in Court
If you have been charged with a Michigan marijuana-related drug crime, it is important that you receive any available protection under the MMMA. If the court determines that you did everything legally under the MMMA, your Michigan drug crime charges should be dropped or you should be acquitted.
You will be allowed to possess and use the permissible amount of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia for medical purposes. If your job is in a field that requires professional government licensing, such as nursing, your government license likely would not be affected. You likely would not lose custody or visitation of a minor as long as your medical marijuana use does not put the minor in unreasonable danger.
There are other states that allow their citizens to use medical marijuana. Michigan is unique in that its law allows registered cardholders from other states to use medical marijuana in Michigan as long as their use follows the MMMA.
The law does not allow for patients or caregivers to obtain marijuana plants or seeds from a medical marijuana dispensary. In fact, the Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that patient-to-patient transfers of marijuana are not in accordance with the MMMA, which essentially shut down many dispensaries as illegal public nuisances. An additional concern is that the government is not regulating the content of the marijuana, and it is possible that the marijuana could contain another drug that makes its possession illegal.
Also, while medical marijuana use is legal in Michigan, it is not legal under federal law. Thus, the federal government’s Drug Enforcement Team could legally raid your home or other property if they knew that you were using marijuana, and they do not care whether you have a Michigan registry information card under Section 4 of the MMMA or qualify for the affirmative defense under the Section 8 of the MMMA.
Michigan police can and often do come to your door inquiring about your use of marijuana. If they see or smell something illegal inside of your home, they are allowed to come in and search your home. Also, you are not allowed to possess or use medical marijuana in a school bus, on school grounds, within 1,000 feet of school property, or in a correctional facility. You may not smoke medical marijuana on public transportation or in any public place.
You may not operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. You may not do a task under the influence of marijuana that would be negligent or malpractice, such as perform a medical procedure or give professional advice to a client. Your protection under the MMMA ends when you are no longer suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
Bond/Probation Orders vs. MMMA Priviliges
Most judges will not allow you to use medical marijuana while on probation or parole, even if you are valid under the MMMA. Some judges are putting bond conditions in place for people with pending charges that they not use or possess marijuana while out on bond for pending charges. The Michigan government keeps a confidential list of people who have applied for medical marijuana registry identification cards.
The MMMA is not retroactive, and that means that you can only receive its protection if you were charged with a marijuana drug crime in Michigan after the MMMA was enacted. Finally, the MMMA does not require that your employer keep you on as an employee if you ask to ingest medical marijuana while at work. Some employers with a drug-free policy may fire you if they find out that you use medical marijuana, even if you don’t use it during work hours.
There are also crimes you could be charged with if you do something that is a violation of the MMMA. A registered patient or primary caregiver who sells marijuana to someone who is not authorized to have medical marijuana could lose his or her registry identification card and be charged with a 2-year felony on top of the penalties for distribution of marijuana.
A Michigan government employee who wrongfully discloses confidential information about who uses medical marijuana in Michigan is guilty of a misdemeanor and could go to jail for up to 6 months, pay a fine of up to $1,000, or both. You cannot lie to a law enforcement official about your qualifications to use medical marijuana in order to avoid prosecution. Along with other punishments, you could be charged a fine of up to $500 for doing that.
The Michigan medical marijuana law has frustrated many judges and attorneys. There are many legal issues that the law does not address that must be resolved. That means it is up to your attorney to argue your rights under the MMMA in your special situation.
You need an attorney who is experienced in all aspects of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. We have lawyers who know what it takes to fight for your rights under the MMMA. If you are interested in hiring our attorneys to help you understand the complex legal issues surrounding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, call us today at 1-(866)-7NoJail.
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