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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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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court Selects [Another] Medical Marijuana Case

The criminal defense bar saw all this litigation coming from a distance.  At this blog, we knew that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act would be challenged, diced, and spliced for years after its passage in 2008. 

Well, no disappointment on that front, as the Michigan Supreme Court has selected yet another medical marijuana case for briefing and argument during their term which will commence next week.  This case will follow the Supreme Court's seminal Kolanek decision and nearly a dozen opinions from the intermediate appellate court issued over the past four years.

This time, the action arises from Kent County and the issue involves the collective farming and distribution scheme of a certified "care provider".  The case, People v Bylsma, was decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals in a published decision one year ago.

The care provider was the subject of a raid conducted by the Grand Rapids PD which yeilded more than 88 plants from a grow operation housed in a commercial rental facility.  Problem: this care provider only had two certified "patients"; a person is allowed up to five under the Act.  You may possess up to 12 plants for each patient.

In the trial court, Mr. Bylsma asserted the immunity afforded by the medical marijuana act, and moved to dismiss the case.  He also argued that the Act does not prevent multiple care providers from collaborating their grow operations.  The lower court denied the motion to dismiss, and Bylsma's appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals resulted in that decision being affirmed.

Now, the Michigan Supreme Court will take a look.  Its decision will further develop our growing medical marijuana jurisprudence.

This case presents an opportunity to further address one of the primary tensions that have developed between care providers attempting to distribute medical marijuana, and perhaps turn a profit in doing so, and the law enforcement agencies that have been uncertain about what is legal and what remains illegal.

The Kolanek decision smoothed out the mechanics of the immunity and affirmative defense provisions of the Act.  Prosecutors took a very restrictive view of the latter, while the criminal defense bar argued for a broader application of the defense.

We here at the Law Blogger recently had the opportunity to brief this issue in a case pending before the Court of Appeals.  Both Kolanek and now Bylsma will affect the outcome in our case.

As for Bylsma, let's just sit back and see whether the Supreme Court will interpret the Act in a manner which will allow these pot farmers to make some money.

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