Michigan Court of Appeals reverses Tuscola County Medical Marijuana Convictions
On January 13, 2015 the Michigan Court of Apppeals, in an unpublished opinion finally held what Newburg Law attorneys have been saying for years. There is absolutely no weight restrictions contained in Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act for “drying” marijuana. In doing so, the Michigan Court of appeals reversed the convictions of Johnnie Randall. After a bench trial (a trial in front of the Judge and not a jury) Mr. Randall was convicted of Possession of marijuana and unlawfully more than 20 but less than 200 marijuana plants. Prior to the trial, Mr. Randall filed a motion to dismiss under Section 4 of the MMA and his motion was denied by the Judge.
Mr. Randall filed an appeal of right to the Michigan Court of Appeals and, in the Court of Appeals, he was successful and his convictions were overturned. At issue for the Court was whether the Circuit Court Judge abused its discretion by denying Mr. Randall’s motion to dismiss. At the time of the raid, Mr. Randall was a Caregiver for five people and he was also a patient which allows him to possess 72 marijuana plants and possess 15 ounces of useable marijuana. Based on a tip, Tuscola county authorities executed a traffic stop of Mr. Randall’s car. Authorities said they could smell marijuana coming from the building that the car recently left and could also see marijuana plants growing inside the building. Mr. Randall was the driver of the car and claimed ownership of the marijuana in the vehicle which weighed a total of 7.58 ounces. A search warrant was later executed on Mr. Randall’s building where they found 68 plants an 92.8 ounces of “drying” marijuana. In overturning Mr. Randall’s convictions, the Court of Appeals used the officers’ own words against them. The Court noted the officer continually used the words “green”, “wet”, “drying”, or in the “drying states” to characterize a majority of the marijuana found in the building.
In overturning his convictions, the Court stated “[t]herefore, because the material seized in the building was not “dried,” it was not usable marijuana under the MMMA. Accordingly the trial court erred as a matter of law when it considered the material seized from the building as being usable marijuana. Thus, the only usable marijuana that defendant possessed was from the 7.58 ounces from the traffic stop, which is less than the 15 ounces he was permitted to possess and still fall under the protections of section 4.”
The court then went one step further and upheld the clear language of the MMA. A second issue was the seeds, stems, leaves and stalks found in some of the “drying” marijuana. The court disposed of this issue quickly and they did it by looking at the clear language of the statute. The court held the trial court clearly erred in determining that the amount of stalks included in the 92.8 ounces of plant material seized from the building was not “incidental” . . . Therefore, the trial court clearly erred in finding that defendant did not meet the requirements of section 4 by possessing more than an “incidental amount of seeds, stalks, and unusable roots.”
You can read the entire opinion by clicking here.