Potential to Set Precedent
“Whether this is good or bad public policy for Michigan is not for this court to decide,” he wrote of allowing medical marijuana use, explaining all the nation’s courts are bound by the Supremacy Clause to be guided first by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws. That means even if defendants prove they are seriously ill and use medical marijuana to ease their symptoms, Lauderbach would conclude the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 is unconstitutional and “therefore must be declared to be “‘without effect,’” his opinion states.
The cases behind the decision
The defendants in the cases at hand, Jonathon Murray Finney, 29, and Todd Alan VanWert, 46, both of Midland, have already been sentenced for offenses including marijuana possession, and each entered the muddy legal battle over medical marijuana usage in different ways related to probation. When taking up the probation violations filed against Finney, Lauderbach found prosecutors proved by a preponderance of evidence that Finney used marijuana on the dates in question.
The bulk of the 27-page opinion, which was filed on June 8, lays out the rationale for Lauderbach’s decision regarding the probation conditions and violation, beginning with the history of the cases of Finney and VanWert. It concludes that the medical marijuana act is unconstitutional.
Lauderbach found though each defendant argued he was a “qualifying patient” under the act, neither could meet the requirements the act lays out in order to be deemed so — including a “bona fide physician-patient relationship and the existence of a serious or debilitating medical condition,” he wrote, adding the court cannot “turn a blind eye to the context in which they received their registry identification cards.”
Both men’s past use of marijuana and the finding that neither received a recommendation from their regular doctor led to Lauderbach deeming appropriate a condition prohibiting use and possession in this case as in any other case where the court orders probationers to refrain from doing something they might otherwise be legally entitled to do, the opinion states.
“This court is required to prohibit Mr. Finney and Mr. VanWert from violating federal law and accordingly must order them not to use marijuana for any purpose,” the opinion states.