St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Medical Marijuana Laws

Marijuana Laws

Medical Marijuana Laws

The use and regulation of medicinal marijuana is an issue that was on the ballot in a number of different states this November. The state of Michigan has recently approved a package of bills regarding the licensing, taxation, and regulation of medical marijuana. This new legislation would make some significant changes to the current medical marijuana laws. If you or anyone you know may be affected by the changes in the medical marijuana laws, contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, a drug attorney in Cass County.

Significant Changes in Regulation

Under the new legislation, a five-member bipartisan medical marijuana licensing board will be appointed by the governor. This board, along with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, is charged with the duty of overseeing marijuana facilities to ensure that their products satisfy health and safety standards. These standards are similar to those which are imposed for comparable foods and drugs. Those who grow, process, and dispense medical marijuana need to hold a license from the state to do so; the license is good for one year and can be renewed annually. To obtain and retain a license, holders will be subject to extensive disclosure requirements as well as background checks.

In addition, municipalities have control over whether medical marijuana facilities can be located in their jurisdiction. Municipalities must authorize medical marijuana facilities and can set a limit on the number of facilities as well as their location within the municipality. Furthermore, municipalities may charge up to $5,000 as an annual fee to offset the cost of administration and enforcement.

Non-smokeable marijuana such as edible forms has also been approved for medical purposes. This form of medical marijuana can be used by children.

Moreover, medical marijuana dispensaries will have to pay a tax of 3% of their gross receipts in order to operate within the state. This tax will help to support law enforcement regulation efforts. This differs from other medicine in the state of Michigan which is not taxed.

There are also provisions for the transport of medical marijuana, inspection of medical marijuana facilities without notice or a search warrant, insurance, and quality control regulations.

Who is Affected

There are approximately 210,000 people in the state of Michigan who are authorized to grow, purchase, or consume medical marijuana for medical conditions such as: AIDS, cancer, seizures, and chronic severe pain and it’s used by children to the elderly.

Drawbacks to This New Legislation

One of the concerns with the recent changes in the legislation concerning medical marijuana is that the amount of regulation is too extensive and will cause an increase in prices for acquiring the drug. Some argue that this price increase may place an undue hardship on those who are suffering from ailments and need medical marijuana. The National Patients’ Rights Association, on the other hand, contends that the new regulations allow patients access while ensuring that the marijuana is safe and in the appropriate dose.

For further information concerning the changes in regulation of medicinal marijuana use in Michigan, contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, a leading drug attorney in Cass County at 269.982.1100 or visit

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Child Abuse Laws

Court Declares a Fetus is Not a Child in Michigan Child Abuse Statute

Child Abuse Laws

The question of when a fetus becomes a person who is protected from experiencing certain harms under the law arose in Michigan in a case in which a baby tested positive for methamphetamine at birth. The baby in question weighed four pounds at birth and was abandoned by her mother at the hospital. The mother was subsequently barred contact with the baby and charged with child abuse consuming methamphetamine while pregnant. The mother was found guilty of first degree child abuse. On appeal, however, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a fetus is not a child according to MCL 750.136b(1)(a) to sustain a conviction for first degree child abuse.

Who Qualifies as a Child Under Michigan Child Abuse Statute?

MCL 750.136b (2) defines the crime of first degree child abuse as knowingly and intentionally causing serious physical or mental harm to a child. A child is defined as a person under the age of eighteen who has not been emancipated. This code section does not make any reference to a fetus, leaving the question of whether a fetus qualifies as a child for purposes of this statute up for debate.

The Michigan Court of Appeals, however, answered the question of whether a fetus qualifies as a child in the case of People v. Guthrie when it held that the killing of a fetus was not homicide because a fetus is not a person before it is born; the fetus must be born alive an exist outside of the mother for it to be considered a person. Again, in the case of People v. Hardy the court held that a fetus is not a child to sustain a charge of child abuse for the use of cocaine mere hours before delivery. Furthermore, the Infant Protection Act defines a person as an infant that is alive and at least partially outside of the mother.

In the reasoning of the most recent case before the Michigan Court of Appeals, the court points out that the Legislature does refer to a fetus in a number of statutes, however, it neglected to do so in the child abuse statute. This, according to the Court, demonstrates that the Legislature did not intend for this law to apply to fetuses. The defendant’s conviction for child abuse was vacated based on this line of reasoning. Thus, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that a person cannot be convicted of first degree child abuse for causing harm to an unborn fetus.

What Crimes Against Fetuses / Pregnant Women Can Be Punished in Michigan?

Although a fetus does not qualify as a child for the purposes of prosecution under child abuse statutes in the state of Michigan, certain crimes, when committed against pregnant women, have enhanced penalties. In Michigan, it is a felony to commit an assault or a battery against a pregnant woman. Thus, committing an assault or battery against a pregnant woman in the state of Michigan carries the same enhanced penalties as committing an assault or battery with a deadly weapon.

You Need an Experienced Criminal Lawyer in Berrien County on your Side

If you or someone you know has been involved in a criminal case in which a fetus has suffered harm or is charged with a crime that involves causing harm to a fetus, you need a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer in Berrien County such as the reputable Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC on your side. For further information or to schedule an appointment contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC at 269.982.1100 or visit

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