Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan. But the legislation is quiet on dispensaries. As a result, several have opened to test the waters, and now four men are being prosecuted for working in them, setting up a battle that may help clarify exactly how medical marijuana patients are supposed to actually get their approved marijuana.
The charges are a result of undercover police work that occurred between May and October 2011. Officers repeatedly bought marijuana using only an application for state-issued medical marijuana cards, and not the actual cards; this, however, is allowed under the law. What isn’t allowed is that the officers received cards without ever being seen by a doctor.
But, the four men being charged didn’t have anything to do with that.
Defense attorneys for the men say they all acted well within the laws set forth by the Michigan legislature and approved by voters. They never sold to anyone who wasn’t already approved and they only sold from their dispensary location.
The state argues that dispensaries are not allowed under Michigan law. And while the laws remain silent on dispensaries, supporters of them question how else patients are supposed to get their “medicine.”
According to the laws, patients are allowed to have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or up to 12 marijuana plants at any one time. Those who qualify for the medicinal pot include people with cancer, AIDS, HIV, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s and a few other conditions.
In a related state Supreme Court ruling in June, the high court of Michigan ruled that patients who use marijuana for medical reasons can use their medical condition as a defense to criminal marijuana charges even if they have not sought a medical marijuana card.
Until the state makes a move to implicitly ban or allow dispensaries, we will likely see several more cases like the current criminal one. Unfortunately for the patients involved, it means either getting a green thumb or turning to the black market as dispensaries are more likely to close down rather than risk possible prosecution.
If you are charged with a marijuana offense, you do have options. Even if you don’t have a qualifying disease, you can mount a successful defense against such criminal charges, potentially avoiding a conviction. Contact our offices today to discuss the details of your case and how we might be able to help.