Adding His Own Words to the Law to Support His Agenda
Michigan Attorney General Bill Scheutte issued his first official opinion Tuesday on Michigan’s medical marijuana law, ruling that the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) does not permit the collective growing or sharing of marijuana plants on cooperative marijuana farms. Schuette said the voter-approved state law requires each patient’s plants to be grown and maintained in a “separate” enclosed, locked facility that is only accessible to “the” registered patient or the patient’s registered primary caregiver. Read the Attorney General’s opinion here.
Section 3(c) of the MMMA says that an “enclosed, locked facility means a closet, room, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or other security devices that permit access only by a registered Primary Caregiver or registered qualifying Patient.
I am not sure why Attorney General Schuette thinks it is within his authority to change the definition of a legal term (“enclosed locked facility”) when it has already been clearly defined in the MMMA itself. Section 3(c) of the Act does not limit the access of the growing room to only “the registered patient or the patient’s registered primary caregiver” as he asserts in his opinion. The MMMA permits access only by ” a” registered Primary Caregiver or registered qualifying Patient.”
Further, the AG fails to acknowledge Section 4(i) of the MMMA which provides that: “A person shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution … for being in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act, or for assisting a registered qualifying Patient with using or administering marihuana. Section 3(e) of the Act provides that”medical use” means “the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, internal possession, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marihuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marihuana to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying Patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the debilitating medical condition”
Long story short, this means that applying the plain meaning of the definitions already provided to us on the MMMA, a “person” may be in the vicinity of the “medical use” of marijuana, which includes possession, cultivation, and manufacture without risk of arrest, prosecution, or any sanction. Further, the definition of an “enclosed locked facility” restricts access to the enclosed locked facility (where the plants are growing) to “a registered Primary Caregiver or registered qualifying Patient”. Someone should inform the Attorney General that the word “separate” is not found anywhere in the definition.
In People v King, the Michigan Appellate Court also failed properly restate or apply the definition of “enclosed locked facility” as the Court asserted that the “statute explicitly states that the enclosed area itself must have a lock or other security device to prevent access by anyone other than the person licensed to grow marijuana under the MMMA.” Just like Attorney General Shueutte, the Court in King failed to “consider both the plain meaning of the critical words or phrases as well as their placement and purpose in the statutory scheme”, which is required by law when interpreting a statute, as it limited the scope of who may have access to an “enclosed locked facility” by using the word “the” instead of “a”, which is the plain language of the MMMA. People v Williams, 268 Mich App 416, 425-426; 707 NW2d 624 (2005). MCL 333.26423(c).
Another oversight by the AG is that Section (7) of the Act, which enumerates the prohibited activities relating to medical marijuana, does not include a prohibition for “Primary Caregivers” or “Qualified Patients” growing their medical marijuana plants in the same “enclosed locked facility”.
Attorney General Bill Scheutte’s position on the legalization and protections of medical marijuana should come as no surprise. In an interview early February before addressing the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police in Grand Rapids he said that the State’s medical marijuana act is being “exploited by those who really are making a mockery of laws across the state of Michigan.”
The people who are making a “mockery of laws across the state of Michigan” (in the Attorney General’s own words) are the elected officials who are elected in order to represent and carry out the people’s will, which is clearly to ensure individuals protections when engaging the medical use of marijuana, not create a sense of fear and shame. Given a recent poll, voters still support the legality of medical marijuana. Supporters of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act need to speak out. Contact your State Representative to thoughtfully and respectfully express your continued support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan.
If you have questions about medical marijuana and the law contact Samantha Moffett at (248) 624-5500
For more info on Michigan’s marijuana laws visit our website