May 31st 2012
David Rudoi Esq.
In a Unanimous decision, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the Michigan Court of Appeals in People v. King. This is a huge win for the medical marihuana community across Michigan. In People v. King the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the Section 8 Affirmative Defense contained in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act was only available to a defendant that satisfied the requirements of Section 4 of the Act. For example, it was ruled in People v. Anderson (based on the Court of Appeals ruling in People v. King) that if a defendant could not show that his marijuana plants were kept in an enclosed and locked facility than he could not assert the Section 8 Affirmative Defense.
Prosecutors have been using The Court of Appeals decision in People v. King and its progeny to keep the words “Medical Marijuana” from even being used at trial in any way. That’s right, prosecutors have been successfully arguing that if a defendant failed to lock the door to his growing facility than he can not mention medical marihuana, or marijuana being used for medical purposes in any way during his trial even if he was operating in conformity with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in every other way.
The Michigan Supreme Court has reversed this precedent by ruling that Section 8 is not connected to Section 4. Section 4 simply provides broader protection from arrest and prosecution if certain requirements are met while Section 8 has fewer and different requirements but is only an affirmative defense to be asserted at an evidentiary hearing or at trial. Section 8 does not protect a defendant from arrest and prosecution.
Furthermore, the Ruling in People v. King means that one does not have to be a Registered Michigan Medical Marihuana Patient to assert the Affirmative Defense contained in Section 8. You must still have a doctor recommendation to use medical marijuana before the date of the arrest and after the enactment of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. However, there are some negative aspects to the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling in People v. King. The Affirmative defense must be asserted in a pre-trial evidentiary hearing first, then that judge can either dismiss the case, state that there are questions of fact for a jury to rule on during trail, or state that no jury could find the elements of the Affirmative Defense exist and thus that the Affirmative defense cannot be asserted at trial in front of the jury at all.
Overall, this was a huge win for us in the medical marijuana community. At Rudoi Law we are up to date on all rulings concering medical marijuana issues and no how to use these ruling to properly advise and protect our clients.