Michigan Medical Marijuana Users Gain Ability To Defend Themselves In Court

People in Michigan who use marijuana for medical purposes now have the right to use their health issues to defend themselves in court — even if they don’t have a medical marijuana card — thanks to a Michigan Supreme Court ruling.

Until this point, defending yourself against a marijuana-related offense by saying you use the drug to treat an ailment had not been allowed. But the high court (no pun intended) ruled that a 2008 law permits the use of medical marijuana as an affirmative defense.

“This ruling will allow us to present a case and go to trial,” one lawyer with several clients involved in marijuana-related cases tell Detroit News. “It’s a game-changer. Up to this point, the Court of Appeals decisions have eliminated and eradicated the right of the people to present a defense to a jury. … Police will continue to arrest first and ask questions later, but prosecutors are going to have to rethink what kind of cases they want to pursue.”

The ACLU of Michigan hailed the court’s decision, saying that, “A patient who uses marijuana to treat their medical conditions with the approval by their doctor should not be punished for mere technical errors regarding the number of plants or how they were secured.”

The court ruled that someone arrested in Michigan on a marijuana-related offense can attempt to use their use of medical marijuana as defense if they provide a physician’s statement certifying the defendant is a patient who has a qualifying medical condition to use marijuana. That statement must also have been written at some point between 2008 and the date of the alleged crime.

Writes the court in its opinion:

Because the MMMA (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act) was the result of a voter initiative, our goal is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the electorate, rather than the Legislature, as reflected in the language of the law itself. We must give the words of the MMMA their ordinary and plain meaning as would have been understood by the electorate.

The court reiterated that the MMMA does not legalize marijuana outright, but that it’s “protections are limited to individuals suffering from serious or debilitating medical conditions or symptoms.”

Medical marijuana users protected under law, high court rules [Detroit News]

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  1. That guy. says:

    “If there is a medical necessity for it, you can have it…but don’t let us catch you with it!”

    • Blueskylaw says:

      My college Resident Assistant said if I don’t see you with it then I can’t write you up for it.

  2. deathbecomesme says:

    “I’m sorry, your honor. I am so depressed. And since I was locked up for buying marijuana it’s made me even more depressed. It’s a vicious cycle!”

  3. Here to ruin your groove says:

    We have had a couple of busts with medical marijuana users from out of state who think they can smoke it indoors despite our no smoking laws. It’s amazing how they look just like grown up stoners. Maybe they were suffering on the inside. Either way, they got nailed pretty hard and I am sure had a downer week or two afterwards.

    Went to the eye doctor last week for an exam. Turns out I might have glaucoma in my right eye (*might*). Now if only we had medical marijuana here.

    • LanMan04 says:

      What was your eye pressure? If I’m off my eye drops, I regularly hit 32 or 34 in both eyes.

      If you do get prescribed drops, go with Travatan-Z. Much easier on the eyes than Betamol, which stung like hell and made it impossible to wear contacts.

      • Coelacanth says:

        If he *might* have glaucoma, I’m guessing his eye pressure is much lower probably low 20s or high teens.

        I believe optic nerve damage must also be present to make a definitive diagnosis, but I’m not an opthalmologist.

        • LanMan04 says:

          Luckily, smoking pot for 15 years or so has protected me from damage!

          I shit you not, after doing all the retinal photography and visual field tests (which all came back fine), the ophthalmologist was like “how do you not have vision damage?!?!?”

          *whistles innocently*

    • Kuri says:

      What about within their own homes?

  4. partofme says:

    A patient who uses marijuana to treat their medical conditions with the approval by their doctor should not be punished for mere technical errors regarding the number of plants or how they were secured.

    I have to lol at the entire way they’re going about this law… letting consumers grow their own prescription medicine. Any chance you’d let me cultivate and process my own morphine at home? No? Who do you think you are?!?

    • LanMan04 says:

      Seeing as morphine is actually an addictive drug, no, you shouldn’t be able to.

      Similarly, pot should just be straight-up legal. There is absolutely no reason to restrict it. At all. It’s a mild, MILD intoxicant, with essentially 0 negatives.

      • partofme says:

        …should you be able to cultivate and process your own antibiotics?

        Without getting into actual statistics about marijuana addiction (cheat sheet: It happens. Not as much as some other drugs.), the important point is that I said nothing about legalization. This drives me insane more than almost anything. The second you say something that can be interpreted as anti-legalization, out is trotted item one from the “Ten Internet Arguments for Legalizing Marijuana” card. I simply observed that if the stated rationale is prescription, medicinal use, then it seems strange that you would not want to make regular the consistency and dosage. This is a strikingly huge deviation from standard medical science which would prevent us from collecting meaningful data on effectiveness for future dosing guidelines.

        Now, the ball is back in your court. Would you like to move to item two on your list… or would you like to make an intelligent and relevant comment? Ya know… about a prescription medication.

        • Mark702 says:

          Sure, I’ll comment. You talk about consistency of dosage. Unfortunately, you seem to not understand that cannabis can have a variety of effects. Based on the fact that depending on the strain, the way it was grown, whether it was a Sativa/Indica/Hybrid strain are all various factors that dictate how a person will react to it. Similarly, even the same cannabis used by two different people with the same condition can effect them differently. Taking all that into consideration, and the fact that many medical cannabis users are unable or unwilling to spend the time, money, skill, knowledge and effort into producing their own cannabis, they have to obtain it otherwise. This can mean buying cannabis that you are unaware of what strain it is, how it was grown or how potent it is.

          As a result, doctors, knowing that cannabis is non-addictive, non-toxic, and cannot cause fatal overdose, recommend that their patients decide when to use and how much to use. That method is referred to as “titrate” or self-monitoring dosage, being that it is very safe. We allow consumers to do the same with Aspirin, which is actually far more dangerous. There is no age limit on Aspirin, so an 8 year old can go buy a bottle of 300 pills for less than $10 and if they take too many, they can easily overdose and die, cannabis however is the exact opposite, no possibility of fatal overdose.

          TLDR: An unregulated and unmonitored cannabis industry results in various effects on various types of cannabis, but since it’s safer than Aspirin, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and even fast food, doctors allow their patients using cannabis to self-regulate the intake of cannabis for their specific medical needs.

          • partofme says:

            That’s great and all for an OTC generic medication. What about a prescription medication? (I see how you’re threading in a total legalization argument rather than addressing the actual topic.)

            In actuality, the variety of effects and multiple strains are precisely the reason why you would want to have better data collection for prescription drugs. Doctors generally have multiple strains or versions of similar drugs, and they proscribe them differently depending upon various characteristics of the illness, the patient, and the substance. Then, they generally revise future advice based on known reactions to known products.

            I don’t want to break the conversation from prescription medications (please, remember that)… but I’ll walk dangerously close by addressing the hypothetical of marijuana being an OTC drug. In that case, you still expect your aspirin to be aspirin, right? You expect it to conform to some medical standards? You don’t want your aspirin market to just be any dude with a chem set…

            Why is marijuana, as a medication, different from all other medications… especially when the legislation in question views it as prescription-only?

            Also, would you like to provide any thoughts on whether you should be able to process your own antibiotics?

            • Mark702 says:

              I’m into personal responsibility, personal freedom, personal liberties. Unfortunately cannabis (not the slang “marijuana” you call it) is still prohibited under an illegal, un-Constitutional prohibition just as alcohol was in the 20′s. That is the reason doctors are unable to monitor the specifics of the medicine. It sounds like you’re a prohibitionist who supports keeping cannabis illegal, though that’s just a guess.

              What people must understand is that cannabis is legitimately used as BOTH a medicine and a recreational use drug, and that trying to pretend that only medical use is legitimate is a fallacy and simply ignorant. I also like to point out to people who are unaware of the specifics of cannabis, that the government actually owns multiple patents on the active ingredients of cannabis, called cannabinoids, despite the fact that the ONDCP, DEA and other agencies claim that cannabis has “currently no accepted medical use” and is scheduled as the highest level drug, at Schedule 1.

              The primary patent # 6,630,507 owned by the our own government, the US Dept. of Health and Human services, states that cannbinoids have “antioxidant and neuroprotectant properties which is useful in the treatment in a variety of disorders, illnesses and diseases.” This proves the outright hypocrisy and completely trashes the lies spewed by the ONDCP, DEA, DARE program and other propaganda outlets of our government. The reason doctors can only “recommend” cannabis and not “prescribe” it is due to the outright lies and propaganda, and they are unwilling to risk losing their license thus destroying their career by going against the Federal government goons who enforce this illegal and unjust prohibition.

              TLDR: The government hypocritically spews lies and outright propaganda. The Feds instill fear into doctors of inprisonment and losing their license for prescribing cannabis, so doctors who are willing to take the risk to begin with, keep their distance with a hands-off approach.

              • partofme says:

                ….and we’ve lost any pretense of talking about a prescription drug… and just slid right off into the deep sections of the “Ten Internet Arguments for Legalizing Marijuana” card. I’m out. Why is it so hard for people to stay within reasonable parameters?

                • Mark702 says:

                  …No, I stuck to the medical aspect of it, sounds like you don’t have a strong grasp on reading comprehension, sorry about that.

                  • partofme says:

                    Hahaha. You’re funny. “It sounds like you’re a prohibitionist who supports keeping cannabis illegal, though that’s just a guess.” …and then you went right on down the line of “Ten Internet Arguments for Legalizing Marijuana”. I set a very specific bound the conversation: assume that we treat marijuana (or cannabis… I don’t care what you call it) as a prescription drug… should one be able to make their own? There is nothing in your comment that sticks to those bounds. It’s called having a focused discussion. I don’t want to branch out into a “should it be totally legalized” discussion, because I’ve been on both sides of it plenty of times… not sure I’m going to learn much new stuff from another one. Frankly, I don’t have the time or energy for it at the moment, either.

                    So, keep dreaming about reading comprehension skills… but don’t think that being an Internet Tough Guy is going to get me to move away from my desire for a focused discussion. My kingdom for an internet devoid of imbeciles…

                    • Mark702 says:

                      If you say so. Some people, like you, are just willfully ignorant no matter if facts and science say otherwise.

          • partofme says:

            Should have added a TL;DR: You expect your aspirin to be aspirin and your ibuprofen to be ibuprofen (and all the variations thereof). Then, you can “titrate”… but your doctor has a good idea of how the drugs might behave. So, then, when you have questions for him… or if he’s concerned about potential interactions… he’ll have the slightest clue for how to help you.

    • That guy. says:

      I’m suprised the tobacco industry (or pharmacuitical industry) hasn’t tried to get a medical bill put through on the federal level that specified that it must be grown with a license. A license that only those industries could afford.

    • spamtasticus says:

      An adult should be able to do whatever he or she wants in their own home as long as it does not directly hurt anyone else. Period.

  5. eddison72 says:

    Bah. Just legalize it so people may enjoy it without the threat of being harassed in the criminal justice system already. It’s a goddamn plant, for crying out loud.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      If you’re going to do that, keep the no-driving-while-stoned laws and remember smoking anything is bad for your lungs.

      I wish they’d legalize hemp because it is such an amazing crop. Industrial hemp doesn’t make you high anyway. But no.

      • Mark702 says:

        Just to clairify, smoking tobacco is bad, but cannabis has been shown to have no negative effects to the lungs. It doesn’t diminish lung capacity, doesn’t cause emphysema or cause black lung, and doesn’t cause lung or any other type of cancer. Matter of fact, studies have even shown that regular cannabis users have an approximately 60% LESS chance of lung/throat cancers than people who smoke nothing at all, emphasis on “nothing” not compared to tobacco users.

        As for the “no stoned driving” law, that already exists, impaired driving is illegal, and that covers anything that impairs you. That could include drinking alcohol, texting, talking on cell w/o a hands-free device, putting on makeup, eating or whatever. And you are correct about hemp, it has tons of uses and is a great alternative to tree paper for paper products, pesticide-grown cotton, petroleum-based plastics, and along with other materials it could replace, that is 10s of thousands of products that could be made environmentally from a plant that pumps out 400% as much oxygen per acre than trees do, not to mention it can grown as a sustainable annual crop.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      But I thought big government was good for us. Seriously though, the war on drugs is more about dollars than sense. I agree with you. Legalize it.

  6. GMFish says:

    You can download the opinion here.

  7. Rhinoguy says:
  8. Mark702 says:

    Sure, I’ll comment. You talk about consistency of dosage. Unfortunately, you seem to not understand that cannabis can have a variety of effects. Based on the fact that depending on the strain, the way it was grown, whether it was a Sativa/Indica/Hybrid strain are all various factors that dictate how a person will react to it. Similarly, even the same cannabis used by two different people with the same condition can effect them differently. Taking all that into consideration, and the fact that many medical cannabis users are unable or unwilling to spend the time, money, skill, knowledge and effort into producing their own cannabis, they have to obtain it otherwise. This can mean buying cannabis that you are unaware of what strain it is, how it was grown or how potent it is.

    As a result, doctors, knowing that cannabis is non-addictive, non-toxic, and cannot cause fatal overdose, recommend that their patients decide when to use and how much to use. That method is referred to as “titrate” or self-monitoring dosage, being that it is very safe. We allow consumers to do the same with Aspirin, which is actually far more dangerous. There is no age limit on Aspirin, so an 8 year old can go buy a bottle of 300 pills for less than $10 and if they take too many, they can easily overdose and die, cannabis however is the exact opposite, no possibility of fatal overdose.

    TLDR: An unregulated and unmonitored cannabis industry results in various effects on various types of cannabis, but since it’s safer than Aspirin, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and even fast food, doctors allow their patients using cannabis to self-regulate the intake of cannabis for their specific medical needs.

  9. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    “Michigan Medical Marijuana Users Gain Ability To Defend Themselves In Court”

    So are you saying they quit smoking weed?

  10. mulch says:

    For 600 pages of medical studies on cannabis check out
    http://www.letfreedomgrow.com/cmu/GrannysListJan2012.pdf
    Here in Oregon, medical marijuana patients look like…your Grandmother.

  11. DragonThermo says:

    Wait, what? Possessing and using a controlled substance (marijuana) without a doctor’s prescription is legal, but possessing and using a controlled substance (Oxycontin, etc) without a doctor’s prescription is illegal?

    So I can self-diagnose myself with a disease and then buy some dope from a guy to self-medicate but if I get busted, I can get off scot-free by saying I have a disease and am treating it with dope without having to prove that I have the illness nor a prescription? Awesome!

    • Mark702 says:

      No.

    • katastrophreak says:

      Really, no. Which part of “…if they provide a physician’s statement certifying the defendant is a patient who has a qualifying medical condition to use marijuana…” did you not understand?