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Michigan court axes some baked goods from medical marijuana law

People in Michigan who have been prescribed medical marijuana may have to stop using certain baked goods to consume their medication after an appeals court issued a narrow interpretation of the state's medical marijuana statute. However, in the case of the medical marijuana caregiver involved, the court left open the possibility that a section of the law could give him immunity from proseuction for drug trafficking.

The defendant was arrested after police found several containers of marijuana and pot brownies in his vehicle during a traffic stop early in 2011. Though the defendant was a licensed medical marijuana caregiver, the trial court convicted him of drug possession with intent to deliver and sentenced him to 33 days in jail and three years' probation.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the brownies were covered under the medical marijuana law as a "mixture" of THC and other consumable ingredients and that police should only have weighed the THC in them, not the entire brownie. The statute allows possession of up to 2.5 ounces of "usable marijuana" per patient for licenced caregivers.

Without addressing the weight issue, the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the appeal on the grounds that the statute does not allow use of THC extracts in baked goods. The brownies were made with a product called "Cannabutter" and contained no marijuana leaves or flower buds. Therefore, the court ruled, the defendant was not operating within the law and could be prosecuted.

However, the court said that another section of the statute might provide him immunity. That section allows possession of unlimited amounts of marijuana that is "reasonably necessary" to keep a patient from running out of the drug. Since the defendant did not claim immunity under that section at trial, the appellate court sent the question back to the trial level for a hearing to see if it applies in this case. Given that he did not raise the possibility in the original trial, it could be unlikely that this ruling will help much.

Source: MLive, "Pot brownies not 'usable' under Michigan's medical marijuana law, appeals court rules," Brian Smith, July 12, 2013

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