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Michigan Supreme Court Broadens MMMA Definition of Paraphernalia

Michigan Medical Marihuana Act - MMMA

Office supplies and drug paraphernalia. One would think that the two have nothing in common. But according to a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision, a simple sticky note can fall within the definition of paraphernalia under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

Maybe the first impression would be that the sticky note was used as a rolling paper. But no: it actually met the definition of “legal drug paraphernalia” because it had writing on it that was relevant to the harvest dates of plants being grown under the Act.

The case arose out of a raid on the home of a family with a state-approved medical marijuana user. Neighbors had complained about a strong smell coming from the home’s basement. When the police entered the home, even though the husband had a valid permit, violations of the laws permitting the growth and harvest of medical marijuana on the premises were found, including an unlocked door which violated the Act’s requirement that the substance be grown only in an enclosed, locked space.

Because of the violations, the husband and wife were arrested and charged with felonies of possessing and manufacturing marijuana in violation of the Act. The question in the case is whether the wife should have immunity because her spouse was authorized to grow the substances.

The Court’s ruling was fairly narrow: while it said that the sticky notes could not be used as evidence against the wife, it could not rule that she qualified for “mere presence” immunity because the husband was not in compliance with the requirements of the Act, i.e., leaving the marijuana in an unlocked space. Her case has been sent back to the trial court in her county to determine whether she is in fact immune from further prosecution, but prosecutors must prove their case without the sticky notes with her handwriting on them.

Another recent Michigan Supreme Court case ruled that the defendant under an MMMA case has the burden of proving his or her immunity and must do so by a preponderance of the evidence. So this may also affect the wife’s ability to avoid prison time.

Whatever the ultimate outcome of this case, it is an excellent illustration of how Michigan courts’ interpretation of the MMMA remains in flux. The state Supreme Court has ruled on nine cases in the seven years since the Act was passed and each one adds to the body of law that will be used to acquit or convict those charged with violations of the Act.

As the body of law develops, those who have been approved to use medical marijuana and those who may be seeking approval would benefit from the counsel of an experienced and prominent drug attorney in Berrien County to make sure that their rights are protected.

For further information or to schedule an appointment with one of our leading drug and criminal defense attorneys at Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC please visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com or contact us at 269.982.1100 .

Source: Lansing State Journal, “Sticky note can’t convict in marijuana cases, state Supreme Court rules,” Bill Laitner, June 13, 2015

Secondary Source: Michigan Live, “Michigan Supreme Court: ‘Inconsistencies’ in medical marijuana law still causing ‘confusion’,” Jonathan Oosting, July 29, 2015

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