Previously this month, the Court of Appeals, in a split choice, figured out that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act does NOT protect caregivers or patients that are in possession of wet cannabis that remains in the drying process, from prosecution. The Judiciaries ruling in the case of People v. Vanessa Mansour figured out that since wet marijuana that remained in the drying process was not usable cannabis, possession of wet cannabis was not protected by the MMMA.
The MMMA defines much of the terms of the act. The term usable marijuana is specifically defined in the MMMA. The act defines usable marijuana to suggest the following: “Usable marihuana” means the dried leaves, flowers, plant resin, or extract of the marihuana plant, yet does not consist of the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant. The Court found that because the act chose to use the word “dried” before the remaining components, that meant that wet, undried marijuana was not a part of what the protections of the act were indicated to shield. Consequently, any person in the cannabis business of caregiving, who is growing under the MMMA for themselves or other registered qualifying individuals, is in violation of the regulation, if they have wet cannabis, regardless of the function for which you possess it. Even you are in the procedure of drying the marijuana, if you are raided and the cannabis is wet, you might be in trouble.
The ruling is fairly bothersome for a number of factors. Initially, any caregiver that is presently growing under the MMMA, will, at some point, have wet marijuana that is drying out yet not usable. Consequently, any caregiver should understand that if you are in possession of wet, non-usable marijuana, and the police arrive, you can be arrested and the Court of Appeals has established that you can be prosecuted and punished for possession with intent to deliver cannabis, and that the immunity provisions of Section 4 and Section 8 of the MMMA will certainly not protect you. Second, the issue develops questions concerning the practicality of the caregiving model, as well as also creates a bothersome situation for caregivers applying under the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) for a growing or processing license.
Recognizing that you are caregiving, and that the Courts are showing that a part of your farming process causes you to commit, at minimum, a misdemeanor, creates prospective troubles for the application review process. Even more, if having wet marijuana cause for criminal arrest as well as prosecution, just how does that influence cultivators as well as processors who are to be licensed under the MMFLA. Seemingly, both statutes are not interlinked therefore, there shouldn’t be any kind of issues. However, the MMFLA uses the exact same “usable” marijuana definition as the MMMA. Specifically, subsection (ff) of M.C.L. § 333.27102 specifies usable cannabis as follows: (ff) “Usable marihuana” means the dried leaves, flowers, plant resin, or extract of the marihuana plant, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant.
As a result, it would not be a stretch to see the Judiciaries expand that MMMA interpretation to the MMFLA. Such a ruling in the future might place a major crimp in the medical cannabis industry under the MMFLA, most likely as a result of a possible chilling effect. The judgment clearly triggers problems for registered caregivers, and, potentially, for MMFLA growers, needs to the Court expand this reading to cover marijuana growing and processing under the MMFLA. Essentially, since “wet” undried marijuana, according to the Court, does not fulfill the definition of “usable” marijuana, if authorities were to come to the place and find wet cannabis, you might be looking at possible criminal liability. If you are a caregiver as well as are planning to proceed growing for your patients under the MMMA, as well as you have inquiries concerning the potential obligation you have under this new ruling, don’t wait to contact our office for a consultation.