People v Koon: Michigan Supreme Court Rules Must Prove MMMA Patient is “Under The Influence”

David Rudoi Esq.

May 21, 2013

On May 21st, 2013 the Michigan Supreme Court issued their opinion in the landmark case of People v Koon. The case involved to seemingly conflicting statutes. First is The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act which provides immunity for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the MMMA. MCL 333.26427(b) of the MMMA states that a patient may not drive under the influence of marijuana, however the term “under the influence” is not defined. The MMMA seemingly conflicts with MCL 257.625(8) which prohibits a person driving with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in one’s body.

In the case of People v Koon it was originally argued that the MMMA shields a person from prosecution under MCL 257.625(8) unless that person violates section 7b of the MMMA and is actually “under the Influence. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that since the MMMA did not define what it meant to be “under the influence” it was not in conflict with MCL 257.625(8) because that statute defined under the influence as having any amount in one’s body.

The Michigan Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals holding that a person who qualifies for immunity under the  MMMA cannot be convicted under MCL 257.625(8) without proof that he had acted in violation of the MMMA by operating a motor vehicle while actually “under the Influence” of marijuana.

The Supreme Court reasoned that the MMMA prohibits prosecution for registered patients who internally possess marijuana but not those who drive under the influence of marijuana. Thus, the MMMA is in direct conflict with MCL 257.625(8) because MCL 257.625(8) does not define ‘under the influence but rather creates a per se violation just for having internal possession of marijuana while a person is operating a motor vehicle.

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the zero tolerance provision could not possible apply to the MMMA because the MMMA resolves all conflicts between all other acts and the MMMA by exempting the medical use of marijuana from the application of an inconsistent act. Since MCL 257.625(8) is in conflict with the MMMA a person who qualifies for exemption under the MMMA cannot be prosecuted under MCL 257.625(8).

This means the prosecution must prove that a person is not exempt under the MMMA by proving some violation of the MMMA, mainly section 7(b)’s prohibition against driving under the influence of marijuana. The Michigan Supreme Court refused to define the actual parameters of what it means exactly to drive “under the influence” of marijuana but concluded that it is something more than having any amount of marijuana in one’s system. Case law in Michigan in regards to operating while intoxicated holds that “under the influence” requires proof that the person’s ability to drive is “substantially and materially affected.” Black’s Law Dictionary 9th Edition defines “under the influence as “deprived of clearness of mind and self-control because of drugs or alcohol.”

The Michigan Supreme Court suggested that the legislature amend the MMMA to define what the “under the influence” term means in Section 7(b) possible equating it to a per se number of nanograms of THC, similar to the 0.08 level of blood alcohol which means a person is per se under the influence of alcohol. However for now the prosecution will have to prove that the use of marijuana substantially and materially affected the patient’s ability to drive. This will not be easy and will often come done to a factually dispute for a jury based on the defendant’s driving and their performance on field sobriety tests.

This was a huge win for the medical marijuana community! The only way this ruling could have better is if the Michigan Supreme Court would have ruled that marijuana is no longer a schedule 1 controlled substance since schedule 1 controlled substance is defined as having no scientifically verified medical purpose. The passage of the  MMMA clearly showed that marijuana has valid medical purposes and in my mind it obviously should not be defined as a schedule 1 controlled substance, however that is a battle for another day.

Marijuana Decriminalization Approved by Vermont Legislature


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Marijuana decriminalization has been voted on and approved by the Vermont Legislature.

The Vermont House approved Senate changes to a marijuana decriminalization bill this morning. Now, the bill goes to Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin. The Marijuana Policy Project reports in a press release that Shumlin is likely to sign it in the coming weeks.

(Related: Marijuana edibles THC limit pose threat to Colorado woman’s business)

In its entirety, the process took a bit over two months. Vermont’s marijuana decriminalization bills (H.200 in the House and S.48 in the Senate) were introduced in the beginning of February. The bill was first approved by the Vermont House on April 16, and the Senate approved and returned it to the House last week. Changes to the bill were approved today by the House. Now it’s off to Shumlin.

This is what the legislation does, per MPP:

“[The bill] will remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Those under age 21 would be required to undergo substance abuse screening. Under current state law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for a first offense and up to two years in jail for a subsequent offense.

(Related: Changes to The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act Have Taken Effect!)

Vote “Yes” on Decriminalizing Marijuana

Vote “Yes” on Decriminalizing Marijuana

As it happens, Project SAM–the anti-marijuana group launched by former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (R-RI) and former drug czar advisor Kevin Sabet–started a Vermont chapter in late April. A number of advocates for legalization see Vermont as a good candidate for tax-and-regulate, meaning Project SAM is likely to be an active-and loud- voice in that debate.

Rudoi Law offers expertise in the new legal field surrounding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Before you act under the MMMA, we strongly encourage you to have a legal consultation to steer clear of known problems.

Whether you’re a patient needing medical marijuana or a considering becoming a medical marihuana provider, Rudoi Law can help you navigate the shifting, uncertain terrain. We can advise you on the registrations needed and the restrictions proscribed by the Michigan Legislature.

(Related: Former chief justice co-authors book about Supreme Court’s ‘dark money’)

We can also advise you on the prevailing attitudes of prosecutors in your area and what to do in the event you are confronted by law enforcement.

Remember: being confronted by the police about medical marihuana is a real possibility and could have serious consequences. You need to be prepared to defend yourself from overzealous officials.

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2013/05/13/vermonts-legislature-just-voted-to-decri

 


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Marijuana edibles THC limit pose threat to Colorado woman’s business-


THC LIMIT COULD PUT CHEESECAKE LADY OUT OF BUSINESS


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If the THC limit to marijuana edibles becomes a law many patients would not be able to afford the amount of edibles they’d need to mitigate pain.

Recently, the House-approved marijuana bill,  introduced a cap on the THC levels allowable in pot-infused edibles — limits that are pretty low.

Jessica LeRoux, streetname the Cheesecake Lady, who owns and operates Twirling Hippy Confections, one of longest-running and most prevalent edibles companies in Colorado, is weary of the low limits. If the limits become law, she says “I can’t see any way that my business could survive.”

(Related: Changes to The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act Have Taken Effect!)

House Bill 13-1317, calls for “a serving size for edible retail marijuana products that does not contain more than ten milligrams of active THC, label requirements regarding servings for edible retail marijuana products, and limitations on the total amount of active THC in a package that is no more than one-hundred milligrams of active THC.”

Although the Twirling Hippy website lists a number of products under one-hundred milligrams, LeRoux says that the roster is out of date. “Now, tier three is 125 milligrams across the board, the next tier above that is up to 240 milligrams, and post-Amendment 64,” which allows people to share marijuana, “we’ve been making customized cakes that can go anywhere from 500 to 1,500 milligrams.”

(Related: Legal Prescreen)

Not only are THC amounts rising as a result of competition from other manufacturers, but also largely in response to medical marijuana patients who use edibles to counteract pain building up a tolerance to THC, LeRoux says.

“They’re not eating these for the euphoric effect,” she stresses. “They’re intended to get you through the day when you’re dealing with pain.”

It is uncertain whether the proposed limit would apply to both recreational and medical consumers, since the establishment of new medical standards has been put on a hold until after the legislature acts. However, if the standard is applied to both, medical patients would have eat a significant more amount of edibles to accomplish a comparable amount of pain relief.

Twirl-Hippie

Leroux claims that not only would a number of patients not be have the financial means to do so, but also that over consumption would result in other dietary and health concerns as well.

(Related: How to Become a Registered Qualifying Patient Under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act)

What effect would the limits have on purely recreational users? LeRoux believes that “a first-time user may have a pleasant and euphoric experience on 25 milligrams,” but the ten milligram limit “creates a false bottom. Let’s say you eat ten milligrams and nothing happens. You’re going to keep eating, and then it’s going to catch up with you.”

Rudoi Law offers expertise in the new legal field surrounding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Before you act under the MMMA, we strongly encourage you to have a legal consultation to steer clear of known problems.

Whether you’re a patient needing medical marijuana or a considering becoming a medical marihuana provider, Rudoi Law can help you navigate the shifting, uncertain terrain. We can advise you on the registrations needed and the restrictions proscribed by the Michigan Legislature.

We can also advise you on the prevailing attitudes of prosecutors in your area and what to do in the event you are confronted by law enforcement.

Remember: being confronted by the police about medical marihuana is a real possibility and could have serious consequences. You need to be prepared to defend yourself from overzealous officials.

Read more: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2013/05/marijuana_edibles_thc_limit_jessica_leroux.php

 


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Former chief justice co-authors book about Supreme Court’s ‘dark money’


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Is the Michigan Supreme Court corrupt with “dark money,” secrecy and ideology?

 

It is former Supreme Court Chief Justice Elizabeth Weaver, a Republican from Glen Arbor’s contention that it is all of the above. Weaver has co-authored a book in which she alleges Michigan’s highest court frequently rules on behalf of special interest groups that bankroll judges’ election campaigns, rather than the merits of the case.

(Related: Know Your Medical Marijuana Rights)

“In the $18.6 million spent last time for the Supreme Court, two-thirds or three-fourths was dark money,” Weaver said, referencing judicial campaign contributions that aren’t able to be linked to individuals or corporations.

“Reform the money,” Weaver said. “Instant, complete, reporting of all money. No hiding behind groups of Justice for People or People for Justice. Every contribution has to be individual, and it cannot be People for Justice, which is a whole bunch of unknown people. It’s dark money.”

(Related: DUI Second Offense)

After serving on the Supreme Court for nearly 16 years, Weaver is no stranger to the dark secrets within. She wrote the book, “Judicial Deceit: Tyranny and Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court,” which will be released May 15, with co-author David Schock because she believes the public deserves to know that the state’s highest court is broken and immediate reform should be demanded for by the people.

“I have a duty to a public that needs to know,” Weaver said. “The book is filled with examples (of) the deceit, the abuse of power, about what they’ve done to employees (who) are in the way, judges who are in the way, or who have the nerve to stand up.”

(Related: Can I Get a DUI While Sleeping In My Car?)

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Weaver was on the court from 1994 to 2010. She was a regular advocate for greater transparency on the court and clashed with her colleagues. She was rebuked by her fellow justices for secretly recording a 2006 internal discussion in which she participated by telephone. Also, she released a transcript in which a fellow justice, Robert Young Jr.

(Related: Michigan DUI Statistics)

She also released a transcript in which a fellow justice, Justice Robert Young — now the court’s chief judge — purportedly used a racial slur. Young is African American.

Weaver argues that the Supreme Court was all over the place when it came to pursuing disciplinary proceedings for judges. Some judges were persecuted, she said, while it “went soft” on others, including Thomas S. Gilbert, 86th District Court judge from Traverse City. Gilbert smoked some marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert in Detroit and eventually admitted to being a regular marijuana user while serving on the bench.

“There is tyranny through the exercise, abuse and misuse of the government’s powers in how the cases are handled and how people and their rights are treated,” Weaver said. “It is done in secrecy and it encourages the worst aspects of human behavior.”

In a criminal case, every minute you wait to hire an attorney puts you at risk of losing valuable legal options. Many procedural rights have strict deadlines and certain defensive strategies rely on time sensitive materials and procedures.

Don’t hesitate—call Rudoi Law now. We’ll help you in every step of your battle.

Read more: http://record-eagle.com/local/x1169345821/New-book-claims-states-highest-court-is-corrupted


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