Pages tagged "Michigan"
Case involving alleged entrapment techniques by police against registered Michigan caregiver sets new record for attendance in Berrien County Courthouse
ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN - Michigan’s medical marijuana community showed strong support for a defendant in the tiny west Michigan town of St. Joseph by bringing 60 people to the Berrien County Courthouse on April 25.
The effort was organized by the Michigan chapters of The Human Solution, a national organization that supports those imprisoned for marijuana crimes and those trapped in the judicial system for similar offenses. The case being heard involved Jeffrey Miller, accused of transferring medical marijuana to an undercover officer posing as a sick person with a real medical marijuana card.
The case was originally ruled on using the Van Sickle legal ruling, which has since been overturned. Attorney Daniel Grow argued that the ruling had to be revisited because of the reliance on bad law; the judge refused to reconsider the issue. He imposed new requirements on the caregiver, per recent court rulings in Tuttle and Hartwick, indicating that since the police officer had lied to the doctor in order to obtain his medical marijuana card through fraud that all transactions performed with the fake patient were illegal in nature.Read more
LANSING- The Michigan House of Representatives considered making the state’s citizens subject roadside saliva testing for the presence of marijuana and other drugs in a Judiciary Committee meeting on April 17, 2014.
Michigan already has laws and procedures to protect citizens from hazardous drivers, including liberal rules defining reckless operation of a motor vehicle and a visual analysis of drivers to determine if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If impairment is suspected officers already have the ability to order a blood test, to seize a motorist’s vehicle, and to arrest the individual involved. Saliva tests have been rejected for use by the federal government and the industry reports no FDA approval for the methodology.
Michigan has a per se drug law. Anyone operating a motor vehicle with any presence of cannabis in the bloodstream is committing a crime, even if the driver is not driving recklessly or has no detectable signs of impairment. A Michigan court case ruled that the presence of a specific marijuana metabolite in the bloodstream did not constitute impairment, which stands in opposition to the per se law.Read more
US Representative Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR) is sending a letter to President Obama asking him to follow his recent comments on cannabis and its classification under federal law with action. Will you call your US Representative today and ask him or her to support this effort by signing Representative Blumenhauer’s letter?
President Obama told a reporter that cannabis was no more dangerous than alcohol on January 27. When asked about that comment by a CNN reporter a few days later, the President said it was up to Congress to decide which drugs belong on Schedule I – a classification reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical value. It is encouraging to hear the President taking a relatively enlightened view of the safety of cannabis and raising the question about its classification under federal law. But we need him to go further.Read more
Medical Cannabis patient Jerry Duval is serving a 10-year sentence for cultivating cannabis under Michigan’s medical cannabis laws. While we all know 10 years is a ridiculous sentence for a medical cannabis patient, unnecessarily losing his eyesight because of neglect is inhumane.
When Jerry was a young boy he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. This later forced him to undergo a dual organ transplant (kidney-pancreas) and left him with diabetic retinopathy which is a condition related to his eyes. He also has heart problems and glaucoma as a result of the damage done by juvenile diabetes.
Within a month of his arrival at FMC Devens, supposedly a medical prison that was capable of dealing with serious health issues like Jerry's, he was denied his anti-rejection medication and his eye had hemorrhaged from lack of care. It's been five months since Jerry arrived at FMC Devens. When his eye first hemorrhaged, he was told he would be sent to an outside doctor because they did not have the proper facilities to treat his eye. He has not seen that doctor yet, four months later.Read more
ASA relies on the strength of our grassroots activists to fight for medical cannabis at the local and state levels. The best way for new advocates to get involved is by joining or starting a chapter to work on local issues. If there are not any local resources near to you, consider starting your own official ASA Chapter or Action Group!
Michigan for Safe Access
Jerry Duval (left) with his son Jeremy
Last month, on June 11th, Michigan medical marijuana patient Jerry Duval surrendered to federal authorities to serve a whopping 10-year prison sentence, even though he was never in violation of the state's medical marijuana law. Jerry is a kidney-pancreas transplant recipient who also suffers from heart disease and glaucoma. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration saw fit to arrest, prosecute, and imprison Jerry at a cost of more than $1 million.
This is not just a tragedy for the Duval family, though they were hit hard (as a result of the same case, Jerry's son Jeremy is serving 5 years and the Duvals lost their family farm to forfeiture), it's also an outrage that we have to foot the bill.
However, two other milestones recently occurred that give Jerry and the rest of us hope for his release sooner than planned. Before Jerry even began serving his sentence, attorney Andrew Greenlee of Brownstone filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on behalf of Jerry and his son Jeremy. We'll be watching that one closely.
Advocates hold Detroit press conference today at Noon to draw attention to federal attacks on state lawful operations
Detroit, MI -- Several Michigan medical marijuana patients and caregivers are being forced to surrender to federal authorities over the next few days to serve out lengthy prison terms, after being convicted in federal court without any opportunity to defend themselves on medical necessity or state law grounds. Some defendants went to trial while others pleaded guilty when they saw no opportunity to defend their actions under state law. Advocates are staging a press conference at the federal courthouse in Detroit Tuesday at Noon to draw attention to the Obama Administration's ongoing imprisonment of state lawful medical marijuana patients and providers.Read more
While just about everyone in the MI safe access community seems to agree that these bills are far from perfect, there are varying opinions as to whether the 4 bills, when taken as a whole, are good, bad or neutral. Thankfully, citizen activists who made their way to Lansing were able to influence the bills to some degree while they were being considered in the House. Without their efforts, these bills would have been much worse, and it goes to show that even if a citizen lobbyist does not earn a 100% victory, it is still very much worth the effort. Ultimately, ASA feels that these bills are somewhere between quarter and a half step forward for safe access in Michigan, below are the reasons why.
HB 4834 - 2 Years for Valid ID Cards, but Warrentless Searches Expressly Permitted
The most controversial bill in the deals with the patient/caregiver registry system. Some of the it's less worrisome provisions would require patients to submit a photograph when applying for an ID card, and the bill would actually double the period of time that a card is valid, improving from 1 to 2 years before needing to renew. The bill also requires the the Department of Health to appoint no more than 15 members (at last 3 or whom must be non-physicians) to a board to review new qualifying condition petitions.
But when you get to Section (h) of the bill, the language becomes troubling. The bill would expressly give police the right access the patient/caregiver registry without a warrant. This is clearly the biggest flaw in the legislation, one that threatens the right to privacy of patients, caregivers, and the rest of the state's population, as the law (by accident or design) allows officers to comb the registry merely if the officer has "probable cause to believe that a violation of the law" involving marijuana has taken place, and specifically "does not require the officer or official to obtain a search warrant to obtain access to the system." Yuck, talk about putting the gross in gross overreach!
In fact, ASA has already received several reports of persons who have been arrested because a police officer was able to snoop through the registry, and this new legislation will have very little practical protection, likely only helping if a case goes to trial...and the patient/caregiver bears the expense and embarrassment of having to face the judicial system.
While HB4834 fails to establish a warrant standard, it does is create the skeletal structure for future reform. Should the bill go into law, A) a level of protection has already been established as necessary for the public good, and B) the legislative fix for this to strike the words "probable cause" and replace with "a search warrant," and striking the final sentence in Section (h)(3)(B)(ii). Clearly this fix will be on the agenda for future safe access legislation in Michigan.
HR 4851 - Bona Fide Doctor-Patient Relationship
Many patients are concerned that by establishing a definition for the type of relationship required between patients and their physicians, some patients with legitimate medical need will be denied access. This seems unlikely, at least not directly, as the definition fits what most people would expect a patient-physician relationship to look like: an complete history/evaluation and an expectation of ongoing physician care of some sort if the condition is ongoing. However, the record keeping requirements, Sec. 3(a)(2) and 3(a)(4), mean that the legitimacy of a patient's physician-patient relationship could be in jeopardy through no fault of the patient, simply because the physician may keep sloppy records. This could put patients who received good-faith examinations from a doctor who appeared legitimate might face legal trouble should the patient's doctor has poor record keeping. As a result, patients may have a harder time finding a physician who has a known reputation maintaining quality records. (Is that sort of thing available on Angie's List?)
HR 4853 - Level G Sentencing Classification
This is easily the most neutral of the four bills passed, as it simply places the sentencing classification for selling medical cannabis in violation of the state card registry program as a Class G felony. Currently, sentencing for this act is punishable up to 2 years in prison. A class G felony carries an maximum of a 2-year sentence. This is basically a wash as no greater harm has been created.
HR 4856 - Medicine Storage Within a Vehicle
The final of the four bills defines the legal space within a vehicle where a medical cannabis can be stored. The definition is overly strict, and applies to both moving and stationary vehicles, but it does provide patients and caregivers with a clear set of rules to where they can keep their medicine in their vehicle. The bill would require that medical cannabis be stored in an enclosed case in the truck of the car, or if the vehicle does not have a trunk, in a enclosed case elsewhere in the car that is not readily accessible to the interior of the vehicle. Patients and caregivers who drive vehicles with trunks should have little trouble abiding by this law, as should patients who drive trucks or other vehicles that have exterior storage space, but what about drivers of hatchbacks and station wagons? And what exactly is "a case" and what is meant by not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle? It seems as if patients in these situations will need to keep their medicine in a locked container stored in the most rear part of the vehicle's cabin. Perhaps they will need to install fencing in the backs of the interior vehicles...but even then, the medicine could still be viewed as accessible.
The vagueness and potential breadth of this legislation is troubling, but it's a good first step and one that can easily be fixed, as the intent of the law seems pretty clear - keep it in your trunk or as far away from the driver as possible.
The legislation ready to be approved by the Michigan legislature is lackluster set of bills patients and caregivers, and legislative reforms in the next session will be necessary. Moving forward, citizen lobbyists should recognize that while these four bills need modification, they do provide a starting point and basic framework from which meaningful reforms can be amended and implemented.
Mike Liszewski is ASA's Policy Director.
On Tuesday, Michigan’s Court of Appeals ruled in People v. Compassionate Apothecary that the sale of medical marijuana was illegal under state law, outlawing an important method of distribution relied on by thousands of Michigan patients. According to the City Pulse, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero blasted the ruling today as “a terrible setback” and “ridiculous law,” claiming that the judges “subverted the will of the people rather than facilitated it.” Lansing and other cities in Michigan have already adopted regulations licensing the same distribution facilities just banned by the appellate court.
Since voters passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, patients have been struggling to find safe and legal ways to access their medication. Several cities including Ann Arbor, Lansing, Traverse City and Ypsilanti had forged ahead, adopting ordinances regulating local distribution so that legal protection would exist for patients and providers. But Tuesday’s decision undermines those local laws and an estimated 400 dispensaries that were operating across the state, generally without incident.
Mayor Bernero called the decision a victory for the War-on-drugs approach, “which will help keep marijuana sales in the neighborhoods and back alleys.” Statistics show that the vast majority of patients rely on centralized distribution centers for their medication, mainly because it is difficult and expensive to grow indoors. In the face of this demand for safe access by the state’s most vulnerable residents, Michigan has shown a deplorable lack of compassion and foresight. Because this legal prohibition on distribution will push patients into the illicit market, it will increase the risk of harm to patients and in so doing will directly contradict the efforts of law enforcement.
Advocates applaud the leadership of local officials like Mayor Bernero, yet more are needed to stand up for the rights of patients to safely and legally obtain their medication. In looking ahead, Mayor Bernero put the ball in the state legislature’s court:
The way forward is simple -- our state lawmakers need to step up to the plate and write a law that is clear and concise and that respects the will of the people of Michigan as expressed in their overwhelming support for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Advocates are currently working to develop a response. The tens of thousands of Michigan patients who rely on local distribution will not stand idly by while their rights are taken away. Whether through the courts, the legislature or by referendum, patients will seek a remedy to gain safe and legal access to medical marijuana.
Meanwhile in Las Vegas, ASA Chapter Coordinator Eric Woodson rallied in opposition to recent Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids and arrests in the city. According to the DEA, the most recent arrests were connected to dispensary raids conducted in September of last year. Nevada law does not provide for community-based access programs, leaving many legal patients who cannot or will not grow medicine with no legal option.