A new Michigan Court of Appeals has declared that medical marijuana patients are not immune from arrest for possession of marijuana if they do not have their state-issued paperwork or registry card with them.
That was just part of the ruling in a case involving an Ottawa County man who was using a medical marijuana defense when he was arrested on May 1st of last year in Granville. The three-judge panel said that although the police were perfectly within their right to arrest James Nicholson, he would be immune from prosecution if he presented his medical marijuana paperwork in court.
The ruling today says that state-issued medical marijuana registry cards and applications must be “reasonably accessible at the location” of an arrest for an individual to be immune from arrest. Nicholson had verbally informed the officers of his right to possess marijuana for medical reasons.
In circuit court, Nicholson produced his state-issued medical marijuana registry card — dated from March, a few months before his arrest — as evidence that he could possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, so the appellate court found he could use it as a defense and sent it back to the lower court.
But, something else to consider, one appeals judge also had this to add in the ruling today: the lower court still had the right to rule if Nichols was engaged in marijuana usage permitted under the 2008 law. The appeals judges wrote in the decision that the “Defendant still has one more hurdle to overcome to be entitled to immunity from prosecution; he must also establish that at the time of his arrest he was engaged in the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the (Michigan Medical Marihuana Act).”
This is just the latest court ruling, so far we have a May Supreme Court upholding the right to mount an affirmative defense even without a state-issued card. An April, an Appeals court found that medical marijuana can’t be used as a legal defense for driving while intoxicated, and last August another Appeals court ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal under the existing law.