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Michigan Supreme Court deals with medical marijuana law, again

It has been nearly seven years since Michigan voters passed a referendum to legalize medical marijuana in the state. However, people continue to get arrested for growing and selling medical marijuana, forcing the state Supreme Court to interpret the law time and again.

In fact, a recent decision issued by the Court is the ninth time the justices have addressed Michigan’s medical marijuana law, according to MLive. This time, the Court combined two cases where licensed distributers were arrested for drug trafficking and denied the right to immunity under the medical marijuana law.

In one case, a man was convicted after the judge prohibited him from seeking immunity, because he did not know if his patients, all of whom were registered medical marijuana users, had debilitating medical conditions. The other defendant also was denied the right to seek immunity, in his case for allegedly selling marijuana to a person for whom the defendant was not a registered caregiver.

The Supreme Court ruled that each defendant had the right to argue for immunity, and sent each case back to the trial court level for consideration. However, they denied the defendants’ right to claim an affirmative defense. In criminal law, an affirmative defense is one in which the defendant admits doing what the prosecution says he or she did, but claims a legally valid reason for doing so, such as self-defense.

Writing for the Court, which ruled unanimously, Justice James Zahra said that the way the medical marijuana law came to be is responsible for all the confusion over the years. Because it was passed by popular vote, the law can only be amended by another referendum, or by a supermajority vote in the Legislature.

The uncertainty will probably lead to more questionable charges against people who are following the law to grow medical marijuana and sell it to those who need it.

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