Michigan voters said yes to medical marijuana in 2008, but the vagueness in the statute put a wrinkle in the lives of numerous local caregivers and patients who were arrested in 2011 for violating the law.
The Michigan Court of Appeals helped iron out some holes when it ruled in August that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act "does not include the patient-to-patient 'sales' " and that an Isabella County dispensary that sells the drug can be closed because it's a public nuisance.
One such dispensary in Livingston County was Marshall Alternatives at 165 Fowlerville Road in Handy Township, about four miles south of the village of Fowlerville.
The now-defunct business was arguably the most locally publicized medical marijuana case after two raids in March and June led to charges for Marshall Alternatives owners Christi Marshall, 39, and Alan Dale Marshall, 39, along with employee Stephanie Lynn Baxter, 30, of Howell.
The three were each charged with delivering marijuana for allegedly selling the drug to an undercover narcotics officer who posed as a card-carrying medical marijuana patient in February and May.
On the back of the officer's card, no caregiver was designated. According to court documents, the defense for the medical use of marijuana "exists only for a registered caregiver who is connected to the patient through the Department of Community Health's registration process."
April Sundie Smith, 44, of Pinckney also is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver in connection to the Marshall Alternatives raids, according to court records. All four defendants return to Circuit Court on Jan. 13.
The Marshall Alternatives case drew statewide attention when the Marshalls and Baxter were arraigned. Protesters from throughout the state came to the arraignment and carried signs declaring "Patients are not criminals."
Brighton residents Gary Katz and Steven Robert Yager and Berkley resident Jonathan Hunter Rominski also faced legal action as a result of allegedly violating the state's medical marijuana law.
Katz was accused of not properly storing his marijuana plants in a secure, locked facility as outlined in the law while Yager and Rominski erred when they stored their supply together, meaning each man had access to the other's marijuana, which is prohibited under the law, authorities argued.
Katz's attorney in August said Katz believed the locked fence around his backyard constituted a "locked, secure facility" as required in the state's medical marijuana act.
Prosecutors statewide have argued the lack of a roof on such a "facility" violates the law.
Yager and Rominski were subsequently sentenced to 11 months of probation for misdemeanor possession of the marijuana while Katz was sentenced to two years of probation for manufacturing marijuana.
Some cases that went through Livingston County courts this year were dismissed. However, statistics on exactly how many were were dismissed were not compiled by the county prosecutor's office.
News Hawk - 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (MI)
Author: Lisa Roose-Church
Copyright: 2011 Livingston Daily Press & Argus