Michigan Laws on Marijuana
In 2008 marijuana was legalized in the state of Michigan for medical purposes. Those permitted to possess marijuana must first apply through a physician’s recommendation. All applications must be accompanied by a one hundred-dollar registration fee. Those who are on Medicaid or SSI can have this fee reduced to twenty-five dollars.
Although an individual may have legal permission to possess marijuana, he or she must comply with all regulations. These can include a limited number of plants and a limited ounce amount allowed at a time.
Anyone who violates the regulations will be subject to Michigan marijuana laws for all those who do not have legal permission. Any individual who does not have medical permission will be arrested for possession, cultivation, or trafficking.
Normally all possession offenses are considered misdemeanor offenses in the state of Michigan. Possession, cultivation, and selling offenses are divided by the amount in possession. No matter if an individual has a prior marijuana offense or not, he or she will be subject to the same penalties as a subsequent offender.
A marijuana use offense is punishable by up to ninety days in jail with or instead of a fine of one hundred dollars. This kind of offense has the possibility of conditional discharge.
Any measurable amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense and comes with the penalty of a fine of two thousand dollars with or instead of imprisonment of one year. The possibility of conditional discharge is also available. Possessing any amount in a public park can be increased to a felony offense and can earn a fine of two thousand dollars with or instead of two years of imprisonment.
All cultivation offenses are considered felony offenses under all circumstances. Cultivating fewer than twenty plants can earn a twenty thousand-dollar fine with or instead of a four-year imprisonment term.
Cultivating anywhere between twenty and two hundred plants can earn up to seven years of incarceration with or instead of a five hundred thousand-dollar fine. Any time an individual cultivates more than two hundred plants he or she will earn fifteen years of imprisonment with or instead of a ten million-dollar fine.
The distribution of marijuana without remuneration is considered a misdemeanor offense and can be punished through a fine of one thousand dollars with or instead of one year of imprisonment. All other marijuana sale offenses are considered felony offenses.
Selling less than five kilograms can be punished by four years of imprisonment with or instead of a twenty thousand-dollar fine. Selling between five and forty-five kilograms is penalized with a five hundred thousand-dollar fine with or instead of seven years of incarceration. The sale of more than forty-five kilograms can earn fifteen years in prison with or instead of a ten million-dollar fine.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of marijuana is treated the same as driving under the influence of alcohol. All offenses, whether first or subsequent, are based on the number of years in between offenses. Under the influence offenses can earn up to five thousand dollars in fines, community service, and up to five years in prison.
Michigan Medical Marijuana Act
On November 4, 2008, the State of Michigan passed the MMMA. This act allows for certain individuals to possess, use, and cultivate certain amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. An individual who qualifies for the MMMA has certain protections that range from absolute immunity to a complete defense. This means that under certain circumstances the State is precluded from bringing criminal charges against a “qualified” individual. Moreover, an individual who does not receive immunity from prosecution may still qualify for an affirmative defense when he or she is criminally charged. The MMMA provides for two classes of protection, one narrow and one broad.
There are certain acts or activities that cannot be performed even if an individual is attempting to strictly comply with the MMMA. These restrictions include, but are not limited to, smoking in public or on public transportation; on preschool, primary and secondary school grounds; and in correctional facilities. See Section 7. However, the MMMA does allow an individual (patient or caregiver) who qualifies for immunity to hold or possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana and/or 12 plants maintained in an enclosed, locked facility. See Section 4. Moreover, if you are a qualified caregiver, then you are allowed to have registered patients attached to you which allows you to carry and/or grow in excess of the numbers just provided. In fact, the caregiver would be allowed to carry or possess 2.5 ounces per patient and 12 plants (locked in an enclosed facility) per patient, up to a specific number of patients. See Section 4.
As you can tell, the law on this topic can be and is complex, even for veteran judges and attorneys. Moreover, this law is constantly in flux and is changing daily because of new amendments, ordinances, and court decisions. Did you know that cities and townships are not allowed to ban the use or cultivation of medical marijuana? Having a medical marijuana card provides you with a defense against attempted persecution. Or did you know that having your card is a presumption of lawful use of using marijuana, not to be confused with marijuana. Sarcasm intended.
Moreover, did you know that resin or extract infusion edibles (i.e. pot brownies, pot candies, pot cookies) are not considered to be usable marijuana? See People v Carruthers. What this means is that edibles that do not contain “usable marijuana” (or dried leaves or flowers) are not granted Immunity under Section 4 of the MMMA. Therefore, when the edibles are infused with marijuana extract or resin they fall outside the protections of Immunity and must rely on the Affirmative Defense stated within Section 8.
In April 2013, multiple new amendments became effective. The entire act can be read here. Even with these new amendments, and recent Michigan court decisions, the law on medical marijuana is still complex and confusing to many individuals. Did you know you must now transport your medical marijuana in the trunk of your car? See MCL 750.474. Moreover, there are now specific requirements for how you are required to transport your medical marijuana while in a motor vehicle. See MCL 750.474.
The MMMA DOES NOT allow an individual to:
- undertake any task under the influence of marihuana, when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice;
- possess marihuana, or otherwise engage in the medical use of marihuana in a school bus, on the ground of any preschool [primary or secondary school], in any correctional facility;
- smoke marihuana on any form of public transportation or in any public place; operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while under the influence of marihuana; or
- use marihuana if that person does not have a serious or debilitating medical condition.
Having a medical marihuana card is a privilege and not a right, but in order to maintain the right to use that privilege you must follow the narrower requirements indicated within the MMMA. Knowing the law, maintaining your rights, and lawyering-up when charged with a crime is the best way to have a positive outcome. The medical marihuana law here in the State of Michigan has been in constant flux and change over the years, which is bound to continue.
Transporting Marihuana or Marihuana Plants
An individual that is transporting marijuana plants in his or her motor vehicle will be considered to have those plants in an enclosed locked facility. MCL 333.26423(d). It is important to note that in order to qualify for that particular provision the individual must be transporting the marihuana plants from one location to another with the intent to permanently place or leave the plants at the end location. Make sure that when you are transporting marijuana plants to always have all your cards with you or the vehicle and your identification card.
Furthermore, MCL 750.474 outlines and explains how an individual is required, here in the Michigan, to transport his or her usable medical marijuana. An individual must transport usable marijuana enclosed in a case, and either in the trunk of the vehicle or if the vehicle does not have a trunk then in an area that is not readily accessible to the interior of the vehicle. If an individual is found to be in violation of this law, i.e. illegally transporting marijuana, he or she faces a misdemeanor charge with a maximum $500 fine and/or 93-days in jail. Luckily, there does not seem to be any licensing concerns with this particular crime; however, it is a criminal misdemeanor and will be placed onto the individual’s criminal record if convicted.
The criminal act indicated under MCL 750.474 has been ruled in multiple lower district courts as unconstitutional. Whenever you are facing a charged for improper transportation of usable marihuana contact your Michigan Marihuana Lawyer today. He will be able to assist you in fighting this violation of the MMMA.
DRIVING & MARIHUANA (MEDICAL & NON-MEDICAL)
The Michigan Supreme Court, in People v Koon, has held that individuals who qualify for protection under the MMMA will not automatically be found to be driving “under the influence” simply because they internally possess marijuana. The Court compared and distinguished the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, MCL 257.625(8), [a “zero-tolerance” crime for marijuana use and driving for the majority of individuals in Michigan] from the MMMA. The Court pointed out that the Act does forbid an individual from operating a motor vehicle “under the influence” of marijuana, MCL 333.26427(b); however, the Act does not define what it means by “under the influence.”
Therefore, the Court concluded that the Motor Vehicle Code’s “zero tolerance” standard was not applicable in the Koon case nor to medical marihuana users. Generally, any statute within the State of Michigan that is inconsistent with the MMMA will not apply to those cardholders maintaining compliance with the MMMA. In the end, an individual qualifying for protection under the MMMA will be allowed to internally possess marijuana and operate a motor vehicle to a certain extent. That still begs the question of what qualifies as “under the influence” of marijuana as mentioned in the Act?
To answer this question the case will likely and seems to turn on other factors that will or did occur during or before the traffic stop and arrest, i.e. proving that the individual is visibly or substantially impaired and under the influence of marijuana, other controlled substances or alcohol. If a judge or jury finds that the individual’s ability to operate a vehicle was substantially or visibly impaired then a drunk driving conviction will be placed on his or her criminal record. Regular Michigan drunk driving sanctions and punishments will then ensue. It is advisable to never smoke while driving or in your vehicle.
As mentioned above, individuals that are not protected by the MMMA are subject to Michigan’s “zero-tolerance” statute, and if any amount of THC (not THC metabolite) is found within the individual’s blood drunk driving charges can and will likely ensue. MCL 257.625(8). This means that those smoking within a certain amount of time prior to driving their vehicles could have THC show-up in their blood even if they are not technically “high.”
More importantly, if the officer requests you to submit to a chemical test, not a Preliminary Breathe Test (aka PBT), you could be subject to the implied consent law found here in Michigan. This means that you could lose your driver’s license for one-year if the officer has probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence of controlled substances, i.e. marihuana or alcohol, and you refuse to take the chemical test. Individuals must be very careful if they are using marijuana recreationally. Always seek counsel when you are charged with drunk driving involving marihuana because there may be defense you are unaware exist.
Remember, you are not required by law to take road-side field sobriety tests, refusing the preliminary (initial) breathalyzer test (PBT) is a simple civil infraction, and refusing the Chemical breathalyzer or blood test involves the implied consent law and possible lose of your Michigan Driver’s license. Make sure your are aware of your rights, maintain those rights to the fullest, and then lawyer-up – it can truly make a difference.
Here in the State of Michigan recreational marihuana is illegal. Simple possession of marijuana is a one-year misdemeanor, attaching a $1,000 fine plus costs, and use of marihuana is a 93-day misdemeanor with a $500 fine plus costs. See MCL 333.7403. For those previously convicted of a drug offense, Michigan allows for enhanced punishment if two or more times. It is important to note that individuals possessing large amounts of marijuana could be charged with a felony intent to deliver marijuana, or a felony will be charged when there are facts indicating and individual created or transferred marijuana. MCL 333.7401.
Furthermore, convictions can and will lead to licensing sanctions and restrictions. If a conviction is placed on an individual’s record he or she will lose their license for 30-days and then have a 150-day restricted license—all enforced by the Secretary of State. See MCL 333.7408a. Individuals convicted of multiple marihuana or drug crimes could see 1-year driver’s license suspension and a restricted license after 60-days. MCL 333.7408a. However, on a different note, first-time offenders under a Michigan statute charged for simple possession and use charges can obtain diversion of the charge from the criminal record. See MCL 333.7411. The individual must successfully complete probation. The statute excludes crimes involving delivery or manufacturing marijuana. Furthermore, an individual must not have a previous drug offense on his or her record to obtain a 7411 or have used a 7411 diversion previously.
Contact the Michigan Marihuana Lawyer today for your free consultation. Josh Jones is here 7-days a week and will provide your with exceptional and professional representation for all your Marijuana and Criminal Defense Matters.