Every day it seems there is another news story concerning the increasingly liberal stance governments are taking on marijuana laws. Local Michigan ordinances designed to decriminalize pot, the federal government announcing a hands-off policy, and states like Washington and Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana are all signs of changing attitudes.
But, it isn’t time to light up freely yet—in the state of Michigan, marijuana is still very much a controlled substance and one you could suffer serious penalties for possessing, growing, or selling. And even as new cities keep passing decriminalization and legalization ordinances, the state laws have not changed.
Two recent high-profile marijuana cases illustrate just how serious law enforcement and the courts are still taking marijuana law violations.
In one, a couple in their sixties faced charges for a large growing operation on their property in southeast Michigan. Ed Schmiding recently pleaded guilty to avoid prison time. Now, he is surrendering his property to the state, deciding not to fight a forfeiture claim.
According to CBS Detroit, the Schmiding’s property was raided last year and the State Police drug unit discovered 8,000 plants growing on their 23 acre farm. Schmieding said he began growing in 2010 after years of growing flowers and other plants.
The confiscated plants were in various stages of growth—from seedlings to mature plants ready for harvest. In all, they took 8,259 plants in 56 bags, totaling 25 pounds. Also seized was 100 bags of marijuana seeds. Some of the marijuana was sold into the state’s medical marijuana program said Schmieding.
In another case, police report breaking up a “multi-county drug-trafficking organization” that hid behind the guise of the state’s medical marijuana laws. The group, called the Medical Marijuana Team (MMT) was not a covert group; they operated out in the open. But law enforcement says they broke the laws.
Twenty-seven people have been arrested and named in a federal criminal complaint. Their exact charges haven’t been announced, according to MLive.com, nor has any details on how they skirted the system.
“The (organization) uses the framework of the (medical marijuana law) to suggest that they are following Michigan law in manufacturing and distributing marijuana, but my investigation, which includes several weeks of wiretaps on cellphones used by principal members of the organization, finds no support for the claim that they are trying to provide marijuana to sick people; it shows that they are out to make money,” read the complaint.
Marijuana is still very much under the control of the Michigan state government, or so they’d like to think. In order to keep it this way, state law enforcement and courts will root out people accused of violating current laws and prosecute them. Though attitudes about pot are certainly changing quickly, we have to wait for the state to catch up before celebrations can include planting a pot garden or exchanging marijuana with friends.
If you’ve been charged with a marijuana offense, we may be able to help. Call to arrange a free legal consultation with an attorney.