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drug crimes attorney in Cass County

New Decision Offers Guidance on What Constitutes “Plant” Under Medical Marihuana

drug crimes attorney in Cass County
In a recent decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals gave greater clarity to the definition of a plant under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. If you or someone you know has been charged with a violation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, contact the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, a leading drug crimes attorney in Cass County.

Under the provision of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), registered “patients” are permitted to either grow their own marijuana plants or to designate another person as a “caretaker” who is permitted to grow the plants for them. In either circumstance, the person growing the plants is subject to strict limits regarding the number of plants that they can maintain at a time – a patient cannot maintain more than 12 marijuana plants for their personal use and a caregiver is only permitted to maintain 12 plants per patient and cannot assist more than five patients with growing their medical marijuana.

If a patient or caregiver is found to be in possession of too many plants, he or she is in violation of the Act, and is subject to criminal penalties. However, the MMMA does not provide an exact definition of what constitutes a “plant”, and this lack of clarity has led to significant confusion regarding the status of “clones”. A clone is a term used to refer to a smaller cutting from a marijuana plant and that, given the proper care and conditions, can eventually become a viable marijuana plant. The practice of “cloning” a marijuana plant is quite useful for caregivers growing marijuana plants for their patients because it allows them to skip the germination period that is often required when starting a plant and because it allows them to quickly propagate especially desirable or healthy plants.

In People v Ventura, a recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision, the court considered for the first time whether such clones can be considered “plants” under the MMMA. In that case, the defendant was registered under the Act as both a patient and a caregiver for another patient, meaning that he was entitled to possess up to 24 plants. However, when police searched his house, they discovered that in addition to 21 marijuana plants, he possessed 22 clones that had been placed in “grow material”. In its decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals first noted that the MMMA did not explicitly provide a definition of a “plant”. It then sought to determine the ordinary use of the word by reviewing the dictionary definition of “plant,” but found that this definition provided little, if any, clarity.

Because the Court could not find any previous Michigan cases that spoke to this issue, it sought guidance from judicial opinions rendered in other jurisdictions. Ultimately it settled on a relatively simple test that it found in a federal case, United States v. Edge. Edge involved the sentencing of a federal defendant based on the number of marijuana plants he possessed. In Edge, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a “marijuana cutting” (such as a clone), is a plant for federal sentencing purposes if there is readily observable evidence of root formation. In support of this test, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that such a definition is in sync with the common use of the word “plant” and also found that the test would provide clarity because of how easy it was to apply.

Ultimately these justifications also proved compelling to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which adopted the Edge test. Applying this test to the facts in Ventura, the Court noted that the plants police had seized from the defendant had “hair-like fibers growing off the main root, with those fibers visible to the naked eye”. Because these root structures were “readily observable”, the Court found that the defendant possessed 43 marijuana plants and upheld his conviction.

Understanding the complex interactions between criminal law and the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is a difficult task that requires specialized knowledge and constant attention to detail. If you or someone you know has been charged with a violation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, contact the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, a leading drug crimes attorney in Cass County at 269.982.1100 or visit http://www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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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 www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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