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ACLU to City: Return Medical Marijuana


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Michigan - The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is urging the Royal Oak Police Department not to seize medical marijuana from registered patients.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the police chief and city attorney, the ACLU said the city isn't abiding by the law passed by 60 percent of Michigan voters in 2008.

The ACLU is asking Royal Oak officials to return medical marijuana that it says was illegally confiscated from Christopher Frizzo, 46, during a traffic stop last month or to compensate him for the loss.

Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan staff attorney, said Royal Oak's police actions reflect a misunderstanding of this new law.

"The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is clear: if you are a registered medical marijuana patient and you have less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, it doesn't matter where you got it from — it can't be taken from you and you can't be arrested," Korobkin said.

Royal Oak City Attorney David Gillam said he received the letter in an e-mail Tuesday morning.

"I did receive the letter and I will review it with the chief of police," Gillam said.

On Jan. 11, Frizzo, a Royal Oak resident and registered medical marijuana patient who has multiple sclerosis, was stopped by police for an improper lane change on Woodward Avenue. Frizzo admitted to the officer that he was carrying a small amount of marijuana and showed him his registration card. The officer then confiscated the medical marijuana because Frizzo's supplier is not officially registered as his caregiver.

Following this incident, Police Chief Christopher Jahnke told the Daily Tribune the officer was obligated to confiscate the marijuana. The chief said the 7 grams of marijuana Frizzo

possessed wasn't for medical use in the eyes of the law.

"He told us he got it from someone other than a caregiver," Jahnke told the Daily Tribune. "His marijuana — not his medical marijuana — was taken because he got it illegally."

In its three-page letter dated Feb. 16, the ACLU said the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act prohibits such police action.

Citing the act, the letter says: "Any marihuana ... that is possessed, owned, or used in connection with the medical use of marihuana, as allowed under this act, or acts incidental to such use, shall not be seized or forfeited."

The letter is signed by Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director.

The ACLU lawyers said the state act marks a change in Michigan drug law and requires local officials to make adjustments to their law enforcement practices.

"Law enforcement officials must follow the law as it is written, not as they may wish it to be," Korobkin said.

The ACLU wants Royal Oak to train officers and provide assurance medical marijuana won't be seized again during traffic stops.

"Innocent registered patients who are complying with the law shouldn't be subject to arrest or having their medical marijuana confiscated," Korobkin said.

The ACLU also is asking city officials to return the medical marijuana to Frizzo or compensate him for it. Korobkin didn't know the value of the 7 grams.

Earlier this month, Frizzo said he wanted to talk to the ACLU because he wondered if Royal Oak police broke the law in seizing his medical marijuana.

"The police have to enforce laws, but I was protected by a law to possess that marijuana," Frizzo said. "We need to resolve this issue or a lot of patients will suffer. If I have to go somewhere, I can transport it. If I accomplish anything, I want to put aside fears that people will be stopped and their medical marijuana will be taken."

News Hawk- Weedpipe http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: The Daily Tribune
Author: Catherine Kavanaugh
Contact: The Daily Tribune
Copyright: 2010 The Daily Tribune
Website:ACLU to city: Return medical marijuana
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