Michigan Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Medical Marijuana Patients

May 31, 2012

In a victory for medical marijuana patients throughout the state, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that the Court of Appeals had wrongly denied a registered patient the right to raise a medical defense when he was brought up on charges of growing marijuana inside his own home and in his own back yard. This is the first time the Supreme Court weighed in on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act and the first major decision in favor of a medical marijuana patient in the state.

Larry King, an Owosso resident who suffers from severe and chronic back pain, was issued a medical marijuana card in 2009 by the state after being examined and approved by a doctor. As permitted under the law, King grew 12 marijuana plants for his own medical use. The Shiawassee County Prosecutor, however, charged him with manufacturing marijuana, a felony, because some of his plants were being grown outside.

Drug charges against King were initially thrown out because he was a medical marijuana patient. But the Court of Appeals reinstated felony drug charges against him because it held that King would not be permitted to raise a medical defense at his trial. Today’s decision reverses the appeals court.

The following can be attributed to Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan staff attorney:

“Across the state, patients have not been able to assert their rights under the Medical Marihuana Act because the Court of Appeals in this case misinterpreted the law. This decision makes it very clear: 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.”

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