Michigan Medical Marijuana – Medical Marijuana Lawyer
Michigan Medical Marijuana Lawyer
- January 17, 2017. Medical MJ registered patient not allowed to use marijuana while on probation. The court of appeals in an unpublished decision, held that a judge could prohibit a probationer from using medical marijuana while on probation for a DUI. The court decided that the probation condition was "reasonably related to the goal of defendant’s rehabilitation, including preventing future criminality, as well as protecting the public" in reaching its decision. The case can be read at here People v Magyari
- January 2017. Landlords can ban growing and smoking marijuana. The governor signed legislation that allows landlord's to prohibit growing or smoking marijuana on leased property, even if you are otherwise complying with the state Medical Marijuana Act. The new law does allow patients to to consume marijuana edibles and ingestion of forms of non-smoked marijuana in rented homes.
December 20, 2016. Improper Transport Statute Struck Down. The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 Opinion today, holding that the Improper Transport of Medical Marijuana Statute is preempted by the Medical Marijuana Act. Courts around the state had been wrestling with this statute, some upheld it, many did not. Two Justices of the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the Improper Transport Statute is in direct conflict with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. As such, medical marijuana cardholders cannot be prosecuted under MCL 750.474. The Court found that the improper transport statute placed impermissible additional requirements on the transportation of medical marijuana beyond those imposed by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. As such, the additional limitations (that the usable marijuana must be in a case in the trunk or functional equivalent) were impermissible and a compliant medical marijuana patient cannot be prosecuted under the improper transport statute. The case and the dissenting opinion can be read at our marijuana cases page: People v Latz.
December 20, 2016. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act 2016 Amendments become effective. The major changes involve a new definition of what is a marijuana "plant" and THC infused marijuana products are now expressly allowed by the 2016 amendment. The Full Text of the Act, as amended, can be read at this link: Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2016. We have also complied several new pages that discuss and explain some of the important changes:
- September 14, 2016. Dispensary, Medible, and Grow Legislation Sail Through Michigan Senate. Three medical marijuana bills that had been passed by the Michigan House a year ago and had languished ever since in a senate committee were suddenly discharged to the senate for a vote, where they passed by super majorities (with only minor amendments). One of the bills would mandate that THC-infused products be considered "usable marihuana" and enjoy immunity protection under Section 4 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. The other bills would create an extensive, regulated medical marijuana growing, testing, processing, transporting, and dispensing regulatory system. Medical marijuana dispensaries would be expressly authorized, as would large grow facilities of 500, 1000, and 1500 plants. The location of these large grow operations and marijuana dispensaries would have to be pre-approved by each local municipality prior to the issuance of a license. A tax of 3% would be assessed on gross income from the state-approved dispensaries to pay for the new regulatory commission and enforcement. The house approved the senate amendments, and the bills are now on their way to Governor Snyder's desk for signature. The bills become effective after 90 days, although the dispensary bill has a one-year waiting period, which gives the state time to set up a regulatory commission to implement forms and regulations.
- NOTE: This legislation is dense and lengthy. There will be an extensive regulatory system implemented (similar to the regulations on alcohol). Many of the terms and conditions have not even been written yet, as that job will fall on a newly created medical marijuana board. Right now, there are many more questions than answers. However, we have spent a significant amount of time reading the fine print and are ready to give you preliminary advice on questions related to the new medical marijuana legislation. Once these bills become law and rules and regulations are issued, we will be prepared to help you through the lengthy application process of setting up your grow facility, dispensary, or processing center.
- September 14, 2016. Ballot Proposal to Decriminalize Marijuana will not be on November Presidential Ballot. A bid by MI Legalize to have a ballot proposal put on the November ballot that would legalize recreational marijuana has ended. MI Legalize turned in roughly 354,000 signatures in support of the ballot issue, more than needed to place the proposal on the November ballot. However, state rules require that signatures be collected within a 6 month period of time. Signatures collected outside the 6-month window are considered "stale" and are not counted. A large number of signatures were collected outside the 6-month window, and the state refused to count them. MI Legalize sought to compel the state to count these signatures through litigation, but lost at the trial court and in the Michigan Supreme Court. Yesterday, a federal court refused to intervene in the case, meaning that barring a last minute miracle, the recreational marijuana ballot proposal will not be on the ballot in November.
- April 2016. No medical marihuana immunity or defense for smoking mj in vehicle. The court of appeals in People v Carlton ruled that a registered medical marijuana patient found smoking marijuana in a car in the parking lot of a private business was not entitled to Section 4 immunity nor the Section 8 medical use defense. The appeals court noted that smoking marijuana in a public place is one of the prohibited actions listed in Section 7(b) of the MMMA. The fact Carlton was inside his car did not change the equation: both he and his car were in a public place (a casino parking lot open to use by the general public) and he admitted he was smoking marihuana. In general, smoking marijuana inside a car is a bad idea, as the smell of marijuana emanating from a vehicle is an open invite to any police officer who may stop your car to conduct a warrantless search of the car and its occupants.
- March 2016. Bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan introduced in Senate. A state lawmaker from Detroit introduced Michigan Senate Bill 813, which would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in Michigan. If passed by the legislature, Michigan would join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and D.C. where recreational marijuana is allowed. Under the Bill, growing facilities, dispensaries, and smoking lounges would be both allowed and regulated; the Bill also imposes taxes of $50 per ounce for flowers and $15 per ounce for marijuana leaves. Someone caught smoking marijuana in public would be subject to a $100 civil infraction. Experts estimate that legalizing marijuana would conservatively generate up to $63 million dollars a year in new tax revenue for the state and 10,000 new jobs.
- December 2015. Grand Rapids Marijuana Ordinance Upheld by State Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court allowed a lower appeals court opinion to stand that had ruled the Grand Rapids city charter marijuana amendment did not contradict state law. This decision means the Grand Rapids marijuana decriminalization ordinance is constitutionally valid and will remain the law. Grand Rapids Marijuana Ordinance Explained.
- July 27, 2015. Michigan Supreme Court Restores Sec 4 Immunity and Sec 8 Affirmative Defense. In a unanimous opinion, the Michigan Supreme Court overruled lower court decisions that had all but done away with and eviscerated the protections of Section 4 and Section 8. This is the 9th time the high court has stepped in and overruled state appellate court decisions. The opinion is 50 pages long and its interpretation beyond the scope of this summary. In essence, the high court undid the damage caused by the previous opinions and restored the balance between immunity and the affirmative defense. The decision also provided important clarification on many issues regarding Section 4 and Section 8. We think it should be required reading for all patients and caregivers. People v Hartwick & Tuttle can be read here: notable medical marijuana cases.
THE WAR ON DRUGS – FORTY YEARS: June 17, 1971 – June 17, 2011
Forty years ago, President Nixon in a famous speech cited drug abuse as: "public enemy number one" and declared a "war on drugs." Since then drug arrests have soared and given this country the unique distinction of having the highest number of persons incarcerated per capita anywhere in the world. The facts are sobering. Here is a YouTube link with the famous statement and some statistical data. CNN – The War on Drugs – 40 years later.
We are Knowledgeable about Michigan's Medical Marijuana Laws.
Michigan Medical Marijuana Lawyer and Criminal Defense Lawyer Bruce Alan Block has closely followed the law as it has progressed since 63% of voters passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in November 2008, and he knows how to effectively raise the medical marijuana defenses. Michigan Medical Marijuana Lawyer Bruce Block is a legal committee member of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and has extensive experience with medical marijuana cases.
The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.
Read below for answers to common questions about the Michigan Medical marijuana act. We encourage you to read our related pages which discuss topics such as marijuana and driving, why marijuana became illegal, improper transport of medical marijuana, the Grand Rapids Michigan Marijuana Ordinance, and much more. These pages are accessible from the left side menu bar.
Ten Billion Dollars a Year on Drug Enforcement. ($10,000,000,000)
The federal government spends 10 billion dollars a year on anti-drug efforts, with roughly 51% percent of drug arrests coming from marijuana crimes. Drug offenders in prison soared from 41,000 in 1980 to 494,000 in 2003, as a result of the "War on Drugs." According to the United States Department of Justice, 99 of every 100 marijuana arrests are made by police enforcing state drug laws. In November 2008, Michigan joined 12 states that had made medical marijuana legal for medical use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington. Since Michigan authorized medical marijuana in 2008 it was joined by New Jersey, Arizona, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Hampshire (plus Washington D.C.), and more.
There are now 25 states plus the District of Columbia that authorize some form of medical marijuana. Two states allow non-medical possession and recreational use (Colorado and Washington). For a lengthy side by side comparison, see our chart: Medical Marijuana States – How They Compare.
How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card.
The Michigan Department of Community Health has medical marijuana application forms at its website. To obtain a medical marijuana state ID card, a patient must be a a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. A state-licensed M.D. or D.O. must sign a written certification that the patient's condition and resulting symptoms would be helped by medical marijuana. This certification is only a recommendation. Federal law prohibits any prescription for marijuana, which is still classified as a Schedule I drug.
Some medical conditions are automatically approved: HIV – AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, hepatitis C, sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's, wasting syndrome, and other serious ailments that cause severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, wasting syndrome, severe and persistent muscle spasms, epilepsy, and MS.
The State has 15 days from receipt of an application to either grant or deny the request. If the state does not respond to a valid application (or a renewal) within 20 days of receipt, the Application paperwork is considered automatically approved, and a copy of the application is deemed to be a valid medical marihuana ID card. Once a patient is approved, the state must send an identification card within 5 days. Medical marijuana cards are valid for two years.
Once a patient receives their medical ID card from the state, they are allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for their personal medical use and possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable medicinal cannabis. If the person is physically unable or unwilling to grow their medical marijuana, they can designate a caregiver. A caregiver must be over the age of 21, not convicted of a felony in the last ten years, and never convicted of a drug felony. Unlike Colorado, California, and other medical marijuana states, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act has no provision for marijuana dispensaries.
The medical marijuana law does not require that doctors participate. Most medical doctors have not embraced the MMMA for different reasons. Some think there should be more controlled studies, others are understandably nervous. In order to write scripts for controlled substances such as pain killers, sleeping pills, and narcotics, doctors must have a federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) license. Since marijuana is strictly illegal under federal laws, physicians are reluctant to sign their name to something that could endanger their ability to write other prescriptions (and thus their livelihood). We have been told that any hospital or clinic that receives federal funding such as Medicaid or Medicare (just about all of them) can prohibit its doctors from signing medical marijuana certifications.
As of December 2016, the Medical Marijuana ID cards did not have pictures of the patient or caregiver
State Website Resources
The State has a Medical Marihuana Homepage with information and links to forms and frequently asked questions. The cost for the Medical Marijuana ID Card is $60 plus an additional $25 if you designate a primary caregiver. Only an M.D. or a D.O. can sign a medical marijuana certification. For more information go to: State of Michigan Medical Marihuana Homepage.
How Michigan Compares with other States
For those who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act does not bestow a ticket to "light up and be happy," and relive the glory days. On the other hand, Michigan's law is more liberal than most. Only Nevada's law is more expansive and allows a patient to possess up to 18 plants, plus 6 mature plants, and up to 24 ounces of usable weed.
Given the cold climate, short growing season and the prohibition on storing or stockpiling more than 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana, most registered patients will likely chose to grow plants indoors. The indoor yield is less than outdoor plants. Conventional wisdom is that the average yield of an indoor pot plant is about 1.2 ounces per plant; since indoor plants will bloom three to five times before dying, the annual yield of a 12-plant indoor marihuana grow site could be 44 to 72 ounces.
For a comparison of the
15, 17, 18, 20 23, 25 medical marijuana states see our chart: State by State Comparison.
Where Can I get Marijuana or Seeds to Grow it?
Once you receive your Michigan medical marihuana ID card, in theory you are state-approved to grow and smoke marijuana; however, it is entirely up to you to figure out how. In contrast, many states such as California and Colorado have marijuana dispensaries where an approved medical patient or caregiver can obtain marijuana and marijuana seeds. Other states have dispensary legislation on the books. Michigan will roll out state-licensed dispensaries in early 2018 under the 2016 legislation Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act.
California was bold by being the first state to approve medical marijuana and marijuana dispensaries. But to be sure, California has the eighth largest economy in the world and tremendous financial clout. Patients and caregivers should be aware that they cannot legally transport seeds or marijuana over state lines in airplanes, boats, trains, or by mail, as doing so violates federal anti-drug laws. The federal government is not required to abide by nor recognize state medical marijuana laws.
Reciprocity with Other States.
Michigan does not have formal reciprocity agreements with other medical marijuana states. However, the Medical Marihuana Act says a medical marijuana card or its equivalent properly issued by another medical marijuana state has the same effect as a Michigan card. Generally, a visitor is someone who has been in Michigan less than 30 days. The reciprocity of other states can be seen here: Reciprocity Chart
The Catch-22 Questions
The new Medical Marihuana Act creates some extremely interesting Catch-22 situations. The Marijuana Act allows a patient or caregiver to obtain marijuana from someone on the street, but the person selling it to them can be prosecuted for a crime. Similarly, patients can grow their own medical marijuana, but there is nowhere to legally obtain the seeds or plants. And, nothing in the Act protects a patient from being fired from their job at a private employer for using medical marijuana.
A registered patient or caregiver is required to keep their medical marijuana plants in a "secure locked facility," which means the backyard garden is not the place to grow. If you have marijuana plants growing in your living room window for natural sunlight, is this not the ultimate invite to a would-be-thief to break in and steal them or to have your house raided by police when a nosy neighbor reports it? There is also the issue of purchasing hydroponic grow lights and indoor growing equipment, which is expensive and can make you a potential target of drug enforcement authorities who apparently monitor credit card purchases of such "suspect" equipment.
It is rather surprising that Michigan does not distinguish between seedlings and mature, producing plants. Most other states specify that a patient can have a total of 6 plants, with 3 of them producing pot. According to unnamed sources, a good rule of thumb would be to have a combination of 4 seedlings, 4 medium sized, and 4 mature-producing plants so as to not go over the maximum.
With street marijuana costing between $100 – $400 per ounce, there is little doubt that most patients will probably choose to grow their own. A caregiver can grow 12 marijuana plants per patient for up to five patients. However, the law does not set any parameters as to how much the caregiver can be reimbursed for services.
Juveniles and Medical Marijuana.
Eligible juveniles, under the age of 18 can qualify to receive and use medical marijuana. The risks must be explained to them by their parent or guardian and two (2) doctors must must give a written certification. The parent or guardian must sign the application and agree to be their caregiver.
Medical Marijuana and Driving.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act prohibits smoking marijuana while driving a car or operating any type of motorized equipment. There is no breathalyzer to determine when a marihuana driver is "impaired." We have heard reports that a user should wait a minimum of 4 hours before driving. Medical marijuana ID card patients are exempted from zero tolerance laws. The government must show actual impairment of the patient's ability to drive, much as it would with any prescription drug. Those who use medical marijuana are urged to exercise caution and perhaps use a designated driver. Visit our THC- Drugged Driving Page for more information on marijuana and driving.
Parole and Probation
For those who are on bond, probation or parole, the court can overrule the Medical Marihuana Act and refuse to allow an otherwise authorized patient or caregiver to use or possess marijuana — even if they have a Medical Marijuana ID Card. When you are on probation or parole, you are on what is called 'conditional release,' meaning that your release is conditioned on your obeying the terms. If you do not follow them you are put back in jail or prison.
Do NOT make the mistake of just assuming that because you have a Marijuana Medical ID Card you can continue to smoke marihuana while on bond, probation, or parole. You must understand that most judges grew up at a time when marijuana was demonized and strictly illegal. It still has a very negative stigma attached. It will be a long time before public perception of marijuana changes and it is accepted as a legitimate medicine. Many people still view medical marijuana as a smokescreen or sham, that these laws are nothing more than an excuse to allow people to get high.
So absent permission, smoking pot while on probation or parole will automatically lead to a probation violation for 'using illegal drugs or substances." Inotherwords, you must first ask and receive permission from the judge in your case so that you can continue to use marijuana during probation. Be prepared to bring in your medical documents and proof of your condition. Judges will likely begin allowing more patients to use while on probation in the future.
Marijuana and Federal Law
There seems to be some relief on the horizon from the direct contradiction between state laws that allow medical marijuana and the strict federal laws that don't. In 2009 and 2011, the Department of Justice directed federal agencies to shift attention away from prosecuting medical marijuana users and to instead focus on those who violate both federal and state law. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice went a step further, when it decided to not challenge state laws that de-facto legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington. Laws in these states allow persons to possess and use marijuana for medical and non-medical purposes. In these states individuals are given state-issued licenses to grow, sell, and dispense marijuana. Taxes are collected and turned over to the state treasurer. The new federal policy seems to be that the feds will stop enforcement of its contradictory anti-marijuana laws in these states – so long as states self-police themselves and marijuana is kept out of the reach of children, drug organizations, the black market, and is not brought onto federal property. Read the Memo here: DOJ Oct 2013 Policy Statement MJ
Regardless of one's personal opinion of this most controversial drug, the Obama Administration policy statement is just shy of being characterized as an unconditional surrender in the War on Drugs. The Marijuana War is lost. It is time the feds declare victory and return control to the states, just as it did at the end of the alcohol Prohibition Era in 1933.
More Medical Marijuana Information
- Read More: Why did Marijuana Became Illegal?
- Charged with a marijuana crime? Read More: Affirmative defense to Criminal Charges
Attorney Bruce Alan Block is a Grand Rapids, Michigan criminal defense lawyer who defends clients and represents their interests. He has successfully handled cases where clients were accused of possession of marijuana, manufacture, delivery, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, maintaining a drug house, and similar offenses. If you are accused of a marijuana crime, put his years of experience to work for you. Call (616) 676-8770.
If you or a family member has been charged with or accused of a crime you need immediate advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact our Grand Rapids, Michigan, marijuana, drug, criminal defense lawyer at (616) 676-8770.
Bruce Alan Block, PLC
Attorney and Counselor at Law
1155 East Paris Ave. SE Suite 300, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Phone: (616) 676-8770
Serving Clients throughout Western Michigan, in Grand Rapids, Ada, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Cascade, Wyoming, Byron Center, Lowell, Caledonia, Rockford, Holland, Grand Haven, Grandville, Kent, Barry, Ottawa, Muskegon and Ionia County.
We represent college students from Calvin College, Aquinas, Grand Valley State University, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids Community College, Michigan State University, and Western Michigan University.
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Disclaimer: It is our hope that everyone will strictly adhere to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act's requirements. Please understand that the purpose of this webpage is strictly informational; nothing on this website or this webpage are intended to suggest that you violate any state or federal law. You are advised to seek your own personalized legal advice.