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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oakland County Re-Visits Medical Marijuana Drama

The Oakland County Sheriff's interpretation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) and the Controlled Substances Act has forced two local marijuana facilities to lock their doors.  One of the pot-growing operations, Big Daddy's Hydro, in Oak Park, closed voluntarily; the other facility, right here in Commerce Township where this blog post is being composed, was the subject of a task-force raid.

The Oakland Press ran a front-page story on Saturday about Big Daddy's Hydro.  The facility was on the receiving end of an Oakland County Sheriff's raid back in January.  Since then, the owners were resolved to carry on their operation; an operation they insisted was legal under the MMA.  Sounds like a movie might be in there somewhere.

Before Hollywood came knocking to negotiate the movie rights to this true crime drama, however, Big Daddy's in Oak Park locked its doors.  The decision was based on the observations of its management group that "patients" were being shook down on the street after leaving the facility.  Also, it did not help that four members of the management group were charged with distribution felonies by the Oakland County Prosecutor.

Big Daddy's is consolidating pot growing and distribution operations into their Chesterfield Township facility in Macomb County, and in Detroit.  Therefore, Big Daddy's alleged violations of the MMA or the Controlled Substances Act are now in the hands of Prosecutors Eric Smith and Kym Worthy.

The more recent raid on the Commerce Township facility presents an example of an increasingly sophisticated approach to medical marijuana enforcement by the Oakland County Prosecutor.  This bust was executed by a joint task force with a federal component; the DEA.  [Remember, marijuana remains illegal in any form under federal law.]  Also, the Sheriff has commented publicly that the facility violated the Controlled Substances Act, not the MMA.

Criminal defense attorney Neil Rockind was quoted in the Oakland Press yesterday as saying, "They can try to describe it any way they want.  I know what happened...and if they want to pursue a case then I'll be there."  Yeah, sounds like Neil; never one to shy away from high-stakes criminal defense litigation.

The Michigan Court of Appeals handed prosecutors a serious weapon when it issued its People v McQueen decision last month.  The published, thus binding, decision of the Court of Appeals runs a lance through most MMA distribution schemes; at least if those involved want to make any money from their elaborate growth and distribution operations.

This brings us back to the intent of the medical marijuana referendum that passed overwhelmingly by Michigan voters in the 2008 election.  The MMA is designed to encourage a "grow-your-own" and "trade-among-friends" approach to distribution.

From the outset, those involved in growing pot have been looking to make money from the provisions of the MMA.  Because the Act is silent on pot sales, a legal debate has, er, cropped-up about whether distribution via sale is permitted or proscribed by the Act.

Also, as the Law Blogger has pointed out time and again; the premise of patients getting medical attention from marijuana, although legitimate in a number of cases, is a complete sham in the overwhelming number of patient-care provider relationships.  This scam will likely bring down the MMA in the end.

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