Mich. Supreme Court agrees to hear 2 medical pot appeals Court of Appeals restored drug charges dismissed by trial judges

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- The Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear two criminal cases about medical marijuana, the first such appeals accepted by the state's highest court since voters approved the limited use of pot in 2008.

In a case from Shiawassee County, a man had a medical marijuana card but was charged with drug crimes when police found pot growing outside in a dog kennel.

In that case, the ACLU is representing Larry King, a 55-year-old Owosso resident who suffers from severe and chronic back pain and was issued a medical marijuana card in 2009 by the Michigan Department of Community Health after being examined and approved by a doctor. As permitted under the law, King grew 12 marijuana plants for his own medical use.

The Shiawassee County Prosecutor, however, charged him with manufacturing marijuana, a felony, because some of his plants were being grown outside.

In a second case, from Oakland County, the issues include whether someone using marijuana must have consulted a doctor after the law was passed, not before.

In both, drug charges were dismissed by trial judges but restored by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals in brief orders released Thursday.

The court said it would welcome any input from the attorney general and associations representing Michigan defense lawyers and prosecutors, as well as attorneys in the two cases.

In Michigan, marijuana can be used to alleviate the symptoms of certain illnesses if someone sees a doctor and gets a state-issued card. People can possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of ready-to-use marijuana and have up to 12 plants kept in a locked area. A registered caregiver also can grow the drug for them.

The law approved by voters nearly three years ago has caused much confusion. Some judges won't follow it, citing federal bans on possessing drugs. It's unclear whether the Supreme Court will address that issue.

Members of the State Bar of Michigan's criminal law section are recommending that Michigan follow Colorado and allow commercial sales of medical marijuana with strict oversight.

Published: Fri, Jun 24, 2011