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Detroit Legal Blog

Michigan Courts Forced to Clarify Medical Marijuana Law

Sep 27, 2016, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Marijuana

This August, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that marijuana plant clones will be considered as separate plants in cases dealing with medical marijuana law violations. This means that if you make several clones of a single plant, each clone will be considered as its own plant—no matter how small or viable they might be.

Michigan Courts Forced to Clarify Confusing Medical Marijuana Law

Michigan’s 2008 medical marijuana law contains hazy language that courts have been struggling to clarify in a growing body of case law. According to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra: “The many inconsistencies in the law have caused confusion for medical marijuana caregivers and patients, law enforcement, attorneys, and judges and have consumed valuable public and private resources to interpret and apply it.”

The law provides that a person may cultivate up to 12 plants, but it did not specify whether each clone of a single plant would be considered as a separate plant. The issue came before the court of appeals after a defendant was charged with growing an illegal quantity of marijuana plants—most of which consisted in clones.

A clone is grown by cutting leaves or stems from a marijuana plant and replanting them. Although the cuttings came from a single plant, Judge David Sawyer stated: “So-called clones that had root structures and leaves and are green and are alive constitute plants … They’re not very big plants and they’re not mature plants, but the statute doesn’t address that. It just says plants.”

Basing their decision on dictionary definitions and similar cases from other jurisdictions, the Michigan court upheld the conviction of the individual who grew the clones. He will serve 24 months of probation and will need to complete 120 hours of community service.

How Do Courts Determine Who Is Entitled to Grow Marijuana?

Before courts grappled with the problem of how many plants (or clones) each patient could grow, they faced the issue of determining who is shielded from prosecution for growing marijuana. To determine who is protected under Michigan’s medical marijuana law, courts now apply a four-part test:

  • Does the suspect have a valid registry identification card?
  • Did he or she grow a legal quantity of marijuana plants?
  • Were the plants kept in an enclosed and locked facility?
  • Were the plants used for medical purposes?

Anyone who fails to meet each criterion may be prosecuted under Michigan law for unlawful cultivation of marijuana. In such cases, Michiganders know they can count on Davis Law Group to fight their charges. If you need a Detroit medical marijuana lawyer, call Davis Law Group today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.