It all began with a simple lab policy which said that when analyzing medical marijuana, techs at the MSP crime lab should treat any and all THC that they are not absolutely certain comes from a plant, as synthetic. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Wrong. Because while the average person may not care whether THC is synthetic or natural in origin, the law in Michigan does care. That means that for people accused of producing or selling synthetic cannabis, as opposed to the kind grown as a plant, the charges are far more severe.
A Federal Lawsuit is Brought by Medical Marijuana Defense Attorneys
The result of the policy change was a federal lawsuit brought by Michael Komorn and Neil Rockind, a pair of Michigan criminal defense attorneys who regularly defend those charged with medical marijuana related crimes in Michigan. According to Komorn, the fact that the state crime lab makes decisions about how to categorize THC without actually using science to determine the answer, is completely unfair to defendants. Their lawsuit says it is the same as falsifying results.
The people seeking class-action status in this lawsuit are all defendants who have been charged, unfairly in their opinion, for possession of synthetic marijuana that they claim was naturally derived. They are as follows: Maxwell Lorincz of Spring Lake, a medical marijuana patient, Brandon Shoebe, a licensed medical marijuana caregiver, Cantrell Carruthers, a licensed caregiver and patient, and Jason Poe, a licensed patient.
According to the lawsuit, the Michigan State Police lab intentionally misrepresents all marijuana oils and edibles as having “unknown origins” in order to allow the prosecutor to bring much more serious charges. In Michigan, possession of a small amount of naturally grown marijuana is a misdemeanor. But possession of synthetic THC, even as little as a drop or a smear, is grounds for a felony. That’s why this particular police action is such a big deal.
Komorn has gone on the record to say that “At least one reason for the policy change was to better establish probable cause to arrest medical marijuana patients, obtain forfeiture of their assets, charge them with crimes they did not commit, and to allow felony charges against others for what is at most a misdemeanor.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, names several people as being complicit in this alleged conspiracy. Specifically named are State Police Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Inspector Scott Marier, who is currently serving as the interim director of the Forensic Science Division, and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard and his forensic sciences lab commander.
But Undersheriff Michael McCabe of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department says that the lawsuit is “garbage.” He cites the fact that the sheriff’s laboratory was recently re-accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board, making it “above and beyond reproach.”
As criminal defense attorneys who have a great deal of experience defending the people of Oakland County and the rest of Michigan against drug related charges, we would like to remind our readers of a few very important things. Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Michigan, when produced and consumed by people who are properly licensed and in accordance with state regulations. However, it is still illegal according to the federal government.
This means that for prosecutors who are openly opposed to the use of medical marijuana in any form, there are many ways to bypass state law. Handing the case over to the federal prosecutor’s office for example, would allow a legal and properly licensed caregiver or patient to go to prison because what they are doing is against federal law. For this reason, we encourage you to contact us the moment you are accused of any crime related to medical marijuana or any other drugs. Even if you are completely within the boundaries of state law, you might be in violation of the federal drug laws. These situations can get out of hand rapidly. Our attorney have represented clients all the way from Wyoming to Florida in federal drug cases.