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People v. Bylsma: No Section 4 Immunity for Collective Grow Operations under the MMMA

Collective Grow Operations


People v. Bylsma: No Section 4 Immunity for Collective Grow Operations under the MMMA

David Rudoi Esq.

December 23, 2012

On December 19, 2012 the Michigan Supreme Court decided the case of People v. Bylsma. The Michigan Supreme Court essentially ruled that collective grow operations are not covered by the Section 4 immunity of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. The Court found that since defendant exercised dominion and control over all of the marijuana plants in the leased warehouse not just the marijuana plants that he claimed an ownership interest in he was not covered under the immunity protection of Section 4 of the MMMA since he had “possession” of more than the 12 plants per qualifying registered patient as described in Section 4.

However, the Michigan Supreme Court did find that the Court of Appeals erred in finding Defendant was not entitled to assert the Section 8 affirmative defense of the MMMA simply because he did not comply with the possession limits of Section 4. Thus, the case has been remanded to the trial court in order for the Defendant to have a Section 8 hearing to determine if he is entitled to dismissal under the affirmative defense.

The collective grow operation involved in this case was a warehouse with a single lock to secure it, although the space was divided into three different booths. Defendant moved plants in between the booths depending on place the plant was in its life cycle and the conditions that it required. 3 people had access to the space but the Defendant was the person who took the primary responsibility to care for all of the plants. There were a total of 86 to 88 plants found in the space when it was raided. The defendant only had 2 registered patients that he was a caregiver for. Defendant claimed that he only possessed 24 of the plants contained in the space.

The Michigan Supreme Court used the definition of “possession” that has been being used in the context of possession of controlled substance crimes for years which allows for constructive possession and joint possession. Therefore, this ruling was not a huge surprise.

Caregivers must have separate locking mechanisms which keep all others from having access to the plants that they are allowed to possess under Section 4 of the MMMA. As a caregiver you must not have constructive possession of any more plants than the ones to which you are allowed under Section 4, although the Section 8 affirmative may eventually cause your case to be dismissed, Section 4 provides you with immunity from prosecution altogether.

At Rudoi Law we are experts in dealing with the MMMA and all of its related case law. If you or someone you know has questions regarding the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act Contact Rudoi Law today!

Michigan Legislature Approves changes to the Medical Marijuana Act at 4:20 a.m.


David Rudoi Esq.

December 15, 2012

Ironically, on Friday December 14th, 2012, at 4:20 a.m. the Michigan Legislature approved 4 bills which will forever change the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). In 2008 the voters in the state of Michigan by ballot initiative voted in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act with a resounding majority of 63%. Due to the MMMA being passed by a ballot initiative, for the Michigan legislature to make any changes to it takes a ¾ majority. The lame duck Republican senate passed the two main bills by a vote of 29-9 and 30-8 in the wee hours of Friday morning. Soon Afterwards the Republican controlled state house of representatives voted in the bills by a vote of 98-7 and 100-5. Now for these changes to become law Governor Rick Snyder must sign off, which will surely happen.

The Michigan Legislature is yet to release the exact wording of these bills as passed by both houses of the legislature (the House Enrolled Bill).  Given the currently available information the substance of the bills  are as follows:

–          HB4834:

  • Would require a driver’s license or state ID card in order to obtain a Michigan Medical Marijuana registry identification card.
  • Would extend the registry identification card’s validity from one to two years.
  • Would call for a private company to help the state process and issue the registry identification cards.
  • Would allow the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to verify the validity of the registry identification cards to law enforcement personnel without allowing them full access to the registry or providing them with more information than  is needed to verify the card’s validity.

–          HB4851

  • Would add conditions for a “Bona Fide Physician Patient Relationship” which is an essential element to both qualify for a registry identification card and for the Section 8 Affirmative Defense.
  • Clarifies how medical marijuana plants must be enclosed under section 4 of the MMMA.
  • Forbids a person from becoming a caregiver if they have been convicted of a felony in the past 10 years or a felony that involves illegal drugs or an assault crime in their lifetime.

–          HB4853

  • Lays out the sentencing guidelines for a violation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

–          HB4856

  • Regulates the transportation of medical marijuana in cars making rules similar to that of handgun transport.

At Rudoi Law we are experts on the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and are always current on any and all changes made to it through both case law and statute. For a full understanding of how the changes to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act affect you or someone you know Contact Rudoi Law today.