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ACLU: Livonia's Medical Marijuana Ban Violates State Law

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Just because marijuana isn't legal under federal law doesn't mean Michigan's medical marijuana law should go up in smoke.

That's what the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan argued in court today, hoping to convince a Wayne County judge to strike down a Livonia ordinance that bans medical marijuana in any way, shape or form.

Livonia claims that federal law trumps the 2008 Michigan statute that legalized medical marijuana, and, that the city has the right to enforce its own laws regarding the subject.

But attorney Andrew Nickelhoff, arguing on behalf of a multiple sclerosis patient who needs medical marijuana for pain, said that Livonia is ignoring state law.

"Livonia is a creature of state law ... it's not a sovereign state," Nickelhoff argued before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Baxter.

Nickelhoff also argued that communities like Livonia can't force states to "march in lock step with the federal government" on issues such as medical marijuana.

"Congress has made it absolutely clear: it leaves states the right to go their own way," Nickelhoff said, noting that nothing in Michigan's law prohibits the federal government from going after illegal marijuana dealers.

Nickelhoff, a private attorney arguing the case for the ACLU, is representing Linda Lott, who has suffered from multiple sclerosis for nearly 30 years, and her husband, Robert Lott, who is prohibited from growing medical marijuana in a building he owns in Livonia.

The ACLU has argued that Linda Lott, who is confined to a wheelchair and blind, experiences painful and relentless muscle spasms that can no longer be controlled by conventional medications. Medical marijuana could help, but the Lotts fear arrest and prosecution by local officials if they grow or use medical marijuana in compliance with state law.

"We're criminals, still, in our own home," Robert Lott said after the court hearing. "We're not hippies. We're not getting high. This is strictly for medical use."

Attorney Michael Fisher, who is representing Livonia, argued that the city of Livonia has the right to criminalize activity that it deems unsafe for its residents.

"There's a lot of concern about the ability of a community to control the growth of marijuana," Fisher said, adding Livonia also is concerned about medical marijuana triggering more crime.

Fisher also argued that if federal law doesn't recognize medical marijuana, then Livonia doesn't have to, either.

"The intent of Congress is very clear: Congress said marijuana is prohibited, period," Fisher said.

The ACLU, however, argues that the Livonia ordinance is in direct violation of Michigan's medical marijuana law, which specifically states that registered patients and their caregivers "shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner." And that's exactly what the Lotts faces under the Livonia ordinance, the ACLU contends.

Baxter scheduled another hearing on the issue for June 30.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: freep.com
Author: Teresa Baldas
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: freep.com
Website: ACLU: Livonia's medical marijuana ban violates state law
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