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Michigan's Medical Amnesty Law

Under Michigan law, amnesty exists under MCL 436.1703 for any minor seeking emergency medical treatment--such as treatment for alcohol poisoning--for himself or another minor. This means that the minor seeking treatment cannot be punished under the law prohibiting persons under 21 for possessing, consuming, or buying alcohol. However, the law does not provide amnesty for more serious crimes such as drunk driving. The law is also limited to those minors that initiate contact with emergency medical services or police. Intoxicated minors who are discovered by police and determined to be in need of medical services may still be punished for having a bodily alcohol content because the contact was not initiated by the minor. Finally, the law also provides similar amnesty to minors who have consumed alcohol and are seeking medical examination and treatment for sexual assault, and also to others accompanying the assaulted minor.

Liberalization of marijuana laws in Michigan cities may mislead recreational users

The City of Jackson recently became the latest Michigan city/urban area to adopt a local ordinance legalizing the use of marijuana and its possession, provided that the amount possessed does not exceed one ounce. Passage of these local ordinances will likely co-exist with the executive branches of each of the local governments, instructing their own police departments not to enforce the state laws (and federal laws) that continue to make both the use and possession of marijuana unlawful. In a previous blog, we noted that Michigan's Attorney General stated that he will ignore local ordinances and will continue to enforce existing state and federal laws. Historically, urban areas have generally been more liberal than small towns and rural areas. In Michigan, small towns and rural areas are generally policed by county sheriffs and, on occasion, by the Michigan State Police. It should be clear to all that a county sheriff, state police officer or any police department in a jurisdiction that has not adopted a legalization ordinance, will most certainly charge and prosecute marijuana use and possession. People in cities where marijuana is legalized should be careful when moving the marijuana through an area where they could be arrested and prosecuted, unless they have a medical marijuana card and are acting within the limits of Michigan's medical marijuana laws relative to the method of transport and the amount being transported. Even in cities where marijuana possession and use is legalized, recreational users should be cautioned to not share their marijuana with others or to make arrangements for such sharing with groups or at parties. Sharing of marijuana, i.e. passing a marijuana cigarette from one person to another, creates a chain by which each individual could be charged and found guilty of delivery of marijuana. An agreement to get together and share each other's various types of marijuana could also be charged locally as a conspiracy to deliver marijuana. Both of these are felony charges and could lead to imprisonment.

Michigan struggles with new law impacting juvenile lifers

A federal judge recently ordered Michigan to comply with a new law stemming from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated the state's sentencing scheme for juveniles. In a 2012 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held the state's sentencing scheme of mandatory life without parole for juveniles unconstitutional as a form of cruel and unusual punishment. The decision requires the sentencing judge to analyze each case individually, looking at the circumstances of the case, the juvenile's personal history, and the potential for rehabilitation-- before imposing a sentence of life without parole.

Tasers now Legal for Civilians

On May 7, 2010 Michigan law limited the use of electroshock devices (tasers) to law enforcement and correction officers, licensed private investigators and private security, and air craft pilots. On May 8, 2012 Governor Snider signed a new bill making the carrying of tasers by civilians, legal; and causing Michigan to join 43 other states that allow citizens to carry tasers.

Buyer beware, keg tags link back to purchaser

A new law took effect November 1, 2011, requiring all kegs sold in the state of Michigan to be tagged, linking it back to its purchaser. The tag's purpose is to assist the police in determining who is responsible for the keg in the event police are called to break up a party, or if underage drinking results from the keg's purchase.

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