Marijuana Conviction Reversed Based on What Constitutes a Plant
The Sheriff deputy testified probable cause was obtained based on the pot smell coming off the building and from the numerous pot plants that were visible by looking into the windows of the warehouse. All the plants were seized and Johnny Randall was charged with manufacturing marijuana, a felony.
In his defense, Randall moved to dismiss the charges under the immunity section of the Medical Marijuana Act; he asserted that he was a care provider for 5 individuals [the maximum under the Act] and was a certified "patient" himself. The trial judge wasn't having it at Randall's bench trial, denied the motion to dismiss, convicted the defendant, and sentenced him to 180-days jail, held in abeyance pending an appeal.
This is not just another pot case on appeal. This case featured a detailed analysis of how pot plants are counted and weighed within the context of the criminal manufacture statute and the Medical Marijuana Act.
Randall's was a full-on hydroponic marijuana manufacturing operation which included dozens of plants in various stages of the process. This included drying plants and others in the mid-growth cycle.
At his bench trial, the deputy sheriff testified that some of the seized plants were dried; other plants were still maturing. The sheriff pulled out the live plants and left them out to dry before sealing them up in an evidence bag to be used in Randall's trial.
The Court of Appeals held that only the dried marijuana leaves are to be considered the "usable" portion of the plant and thus, still growing plants and the "incidental" seeds, stalks, and unusable roots cannot be counted against the caregiver-patient.
Under this interpretation of the Medical Marijuana Act, Randall was well-below his 15-ounce weight limit as a caregiver for himself and 5 other individuals. His conviction was therefore dismissed and his sentence was vacated.
These and other aspects of the immunity provision contained in the Medical Marijuana Act were recently argued before the Michigan Supreme Court in three consolidated cases from Oakland County; a decision is expected later this spring.