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Court Rulings on Marijuana Prosecution

Court rulings on marijuana prosecution are important to understand. The United States Department of Justice expressed in The Cole Memo that anyone in violation of the Controlled Substances Act was subject to criminal prosecution, regardless of state law. This stance was reinforced throughout 2011. Contact a qualified Michigan lawyer for more on the history of court rulings on marijuana prosecution.

Casias v. Walmart

This opinion was upheld when a federal judge ruled against a medical marijuana patient in the court ruling of Casias v. Wal-Mart. In this case, a medical marijuana patient with a Department of Community Health issued registry card was terminated from his job at Wal-Mart after testing positive for marijuana.

The judge ruled in favor of Wal-Mart, claiming that the MMMA did not regulate private employment. This ruling clearly indicates that even those with registry cards and those who follow Michigan's laws regarding medical marijuana can still face prosecution for marijuana related policies.

State v. McQueen

Furthermore, throughout 2011 the Court of Appeals ruled against medical marijuana dispensaries. For example, in State v. McQueen, the government ruled to shut down the Compassionate Apothecary, LLC on multiple grounds. Law enforcement used this ruling to crack down on various medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

The state claimed that despite state laws, growing, distributing, or selling medical marijuana was still in violation of federal law under the Controlled Substances Act. Michigan made it clear that those who participate in the business of medical marijuana are subject to federal prosecution.

In 2011, the Department of Justice also expressed in a medical marijuana legislative proposal that they do not focus their resources prosecuting those who use medical marijuana to treat an illness in compliance with the Ogden Memorandum. However, the Department of Justice does reserve the right to prosecute such people as they see fit, even if an individual follows state laws.

Marijuana as Dangerous Substance

Even though measures were taken to make medical marijuana more accessible in Michigan, the federal courts still ruled in 2013 that marijuana is a dangerous substance. Court rulings in marijuana prosecution can be harsh. Efforts to change marijuana's classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance did not affect its classification. What's more, Schedule 1 controlled substances are not viewed as having an acceptable medical use. So, the federal courts still fought to prosecute marijuana related crimes.

In 2013, the State v. McQueen court ruling was appealed. In the appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court continued to rule against medical marijuana dispensaries. They denied the appeal because:

  • Dispensaries are subject to prosecution from the state's public nuisance claim
  • The MMMA does not apply to dispensaries of medical marijuana
  • Affirmative defenses do not apply
People v. Bylsma9

Issues with dispensaries and collective growth operations continued in 2016. In People v. Bylsma9, the court found that:

  • Possession under MMMA means that a person has dominion over the substance
  • The defendant in the case controlled 88 marijuana plants, 24 more than were allowed under the MMMA

A series of bills were drafted and in late 2016, passed into law. The hope was that this three-bill package would add clarity to the existing patient/caregiver paradigm, and also, provide a structure within which the commercial manufacture and sale of medical marijuana could take place.

Bill Packages

These bills are House Bill 4209, House Bill 4827, and House Bill 4210. The corresponding "Michigan Compiled Laws" (MCL) are the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MCL secs. 333.26421 – 333.26430), the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, (MCL secs. 333.27101 – 333.27801), and the Marijuana Tracking Act (MCL secs. 333.27901 – 333.27904).

The first Act amends and clarifies the patient/caregiver paradigm, the second outlines regulation and licensing information for the proper growth and sale of medical marijuana, and the third act tracks the production and sale of medical marijuana throughout the state of Michigan. Court rulings on medical marijuana prosecution involve a complicated history.

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