Michigan medical marijuana card

People v. Nicholson: Must Have Actually Possession of Your Card at the Time of Arrest, or at the Time of Prosecution

The Case of People v. Nicholson was decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals on June 26, 2012. The case dealt with a situation where the Defendant was a passenger in a parked car while in possession of one ounce of marijuana. Defendant had not been issued his registry identification card but did have a copy of his registry identification application which is deemed to act as a valid registry identification card under section 9(b) of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. However, Defendant’s copy of his registry identification card application was at his home and not in his possession at the time of the arrest.

The circuit court ruled that Defendant needed to have the copy of his registry identification card application at the time of the incident in order to receive any immunity from section 4 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed this decision and looked to the language of the statute to form the rule. The statute states:

“Sec. 4. (a) A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner…”

The Michigan court of appeals interpreted the above language to mean that a person is immune from arrest if they are in actual possession of their registry identification card at the time of arrest, however, if a person is not in actual possession of their registry identification at the time of arrest they are not immune and may be arrested. On the other hand, that same person can show up to court (the time of prosecution) and be immune from prosecution if they are in actual possession of their registry identification card at that time.

Thus, a person may be immune from arrest if they are in actual possession of their registry
identification card at the time of arrest, a person can be immune from prosecution if they are in actual possession of their registry identification card at the time of prosecution. However, the Michigan Court of Appeals still left a bit of ambiguity in its opinion. For example: what if a person is arrested and then applies for their registry identification card? If they show up at their first court date with a registry identification card or the equivalent copy of an application, many interpret that People v. Nicholson rules that they are immune from prosecution even though they hadn’t even applied for their registry card at the time of the incident.

At Rudoi Law we understand how to properly argue case law to benefit your specific factual circumstances in order to protect your rights and freedoms. Although the law may still seem unclear we can guide you with all the information that is available and inform you of how courts are likely to rule on certain issues. If you have further questions regarding the ruling in People v. Nicholson feel free to call our offices anytime.