The first ruling in a medical marijuana case from the Supreme Court of the state of Michigan was issued last week. Back in September, on the urging of the Michigan ACLU, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal case involving Larry King, a resident of Owosso. He had a state-issued medical marijuana card, but he had been charged with the crime of cultivating marijuana in his outdoor dog kennel. King was arrested for manufacturing marijuana after police found his weed growing in a locked kennel.
The Michigan Medical marijuana law states that patients can possess up to 12 plants as long as they are in an enclosed, locked facility. The police took issue with the chain link fence-type dog kennel and King was arrested. King who is 55, faced felony drug charges for his crime in 2009. An Appeals court ruled he couldn’t use being a medical marijuana patient as part of his defense because his dog kennel did not qualify as a place to keep his medical marijuana growing operation.
On May 31st, the Supreme court overturned that decision and decided that King was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the matter, and that his kennel did fit the qualifications of a locked, enclosed facility. Medical marijuana lawyers and advocates see this ruling as a huge win in the Courts. They hope this ruling will make an impact on medical marijuana patients telling the courts that a simple mistake does not mean criminal intent.
The King case was just one of several medical marijuana cases that are pending in the Supreme and appellate courts. We are still waiting for the issue of dispensaries and patient to patient sales of medical marijuana to crop up, however, most of the start up dispensaries in the state have closed after Attorney General Bill Schutte issued an opinion last summer that they were illegal.
In a separate case that was resolved within the same ruling, Alexander Kolanek needed a doctor’s statement confirming a medical need for marijuana when he was caught with it between the time the state passed the medical marijuana law in 2008, but before the law was enacted in 2009. That ruling affirmed the appeals court ruling that said a person has a right to assert a medical marijuana defense IF the doctor’s recommendation was already in hand. The 25 year old Kolenek said he was using marijuana to relieve severe problems he had related to Lyme disease. He said that he talked to his doctor about the benefits of using medical marijuana, but did not get the doctor’s authorization until after his arrest for possession. These court decisions are helping clarify the Michigan Medical Marijuana laws that have been debated since they were enacted.