Tracking Recent Developments in Medical Marijuana Law

posted on January 06, 2016 by SuperUser Account

by Troy Clarke, Criminal Law

michigan medical marijuana laws

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) provides a path to immunity from criminal prosecution for patients using medical marijuana for a qualifying medical condition and those providing marijuana to a patient.  That path, however, is not always clear.  

The assistance of an attorney is essential to understand your rights, whether you are considering using marijuana to treat a medical condition or  becoming a provider of marijuana to individual patients.

Michigan Medical Marijuana Act Requirements

The MMMA requires a patient to obtain a registry card following a diagnosis by a treating physician of a qualifying medical condition for which marijuana will provide relief.  In addition, the MMMA limits the quantity of marijuana possessed by a patient to no more than 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and 12 plants, if that patient is growing the marijuana for personal medical use.  Many patients obtain marijuana from a “caregiver,” who is similarly limited to the possession of 2.5 ounces and 12 plants for up to five patients (six, if the caregiver is also a patient and grows their own marijuana) with valid registry cards.  Further, the caregiver must store the patient’s plants in an enclosed, locked facility with access limited to the caregiver.  

Since the passage of the MMMA, a significant body of appellate law has developed to interpret the voter-passed law.  The Michigan Supreme Court, in People v Hartwick and People v Tuttle, recently set new standards of proof for the immunity defenses available to patients and caregivers.  Both cases involved caregivers charged with manufacture and delivery of marijuana.  

Immunity Defense Under MMMA Requirements

An immunity defense under section 4 of the MMMA requires the defendant to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, compliance with the patient registry card requirement, per-patient quantity limits, plant storage requirements and, importantly, that the defendant was engaged in the medical use of marijuana.  If proof is offered that the defendant engaged in conduct not related to the medical use of marijuana, for instance by providing it to a non-patient, there may be a loss of immunity under the MMMA for the charge of delivery to the non-patient.  Where this hypothetical defendant had otherwise engaged in MMMA-compliant conduct, however, the non-compliant conduct would not be a basis for the loss of immunity.  Thus, the hypothetical defendant otherwise complying with the MMMA would not lose immunity where charges were based on the possession of marijuana alone, but would lose immunity for those charges related directly to the caregiver’s delivery to a non-patient.

With pending cases and proposed legislation addressing many aspects of the MMMA, including the definition of “usable marijuana,” the field of medical marijuana law will continue to evolve and present many challenges to defendants and their attorneys.

If you have questions regarding the MMMA or have been charged with a violation of marijuana law, get in touch with us.


The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.  

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