Detroit Medical Marijuana Lawyer
Medical marijuana may be legal in Michigan, but in some circumstances, you can still get in trouble with the law for growing or possessing cannabis—even if you’re a registered patient or caregiver. The medical marijuana industry’s regulatory framework is not only complex, it is ever evolving. At Davis Law Group, our Detroit criminal defense lawyers follow closely the development of medical marijuana law in Michigan to better meet the needs of our clients.
What Are the Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana?
To become a legal medical cannabis user, you will need to have proof from a doctor that you have one or more of the following conditions:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Crohn’s disease
- HIV or AIDS
- Hepatitis C
- Nail patella
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms
Once you have sufficient proof that you are a “qualifying patient” with one of the ailments listed above, you may submit your medical marijuana card application to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. You’ll need to include a $100 application fee, your personal information, and the identity of your doctor and your caregiver.
How Much Cannabis Can I Have as a Registered Patient?
If you are a registered medical marijuana patient, you may keep up to 12 plants in a closed and locked area. Alternatively, the plants must not be visible from neighboring properties—whether from ground level or a permanent structure. The access to the growing area must be restricted. In addition to your plants, you may possess no more than 2.5 ounces for your personal consumption.
Who Can Be a Caregiver?
A primary caregiver provides marijuana to patients who do not grow their own. A caregiver must meet the following requirements:
- Over 21 years of age
- No felony convictions for drugs
- No convictions for violent felonies
- No convictions for any other felony types within the last 10 years
A primary caregiver can assist no more than 5 patients at once, and each patient can have no more than 1 primary caregiver.
What Are the Penalties for Violating the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act?
The penalties for violating the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act are severe. A conviction under this statute may result in a 2-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,000. In many cases, however, prosecutors choose to bring charges under the state’s controlled substance laws, which often involve harsher penalties—especially when the issue is the allegedly illegal cultivation or distribution of cannabis.
For example, Michigan law provides the following penalties for someone convicted of manufacturing, delivering, cultivating, processing, or possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana:
- For less than 5 kilos or 20 plants—Prison sentence of 4 years and a fine of $20,000.
- Between 5 and 45 kilos or 20 to 200 plants—7 years in state prison and a fine reaching $500,000.
- More than 45 kilos or 200 plants—15 years behind bars and a fine of up to $10,000,000.
For simple use or possession of marijuana, the penalties vary from one municipality to another. While state law punishes marijuana use with a 90-day jail sentence and/or a fine of $100, some municipalities may have laws providing for fines as high as $500 and jail sentences of up to 93 days.
According to a recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling, the judge in your case does not have to follow these statutory penalties when deciding your sentence. Instead, he or she may give you a “reasonable” sentence for your offense, which may be lower—or higher—than the penalties written in Michigan’s statutes.
In cases involving large amounts of marijuana, or the suspicion that the marijuana crossed state lines, you may face federal drug trafficking charges. Federal drug charges are extremely serious, and involve draconian penalties. For example, if you get convicted of having more than 100 plants, you could face a 5-year mandatory sentence in a federal prison and be forced to pay a fine of up to $5,000,000.
If you get arrested for growing or distributing marijuana, the police may confiscate property they suspect was involved with the crime—even if the prosecutor never brings charges against you. Under the controversial laws of civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement may permanently take property they find at the alleged crime scene, such as:
- Your marijuana crop
- Growing equipment
- Any cash in your house or vehicle
- Your vehicles
- Your home
Proposed Changes to Michigan’s Medical Marijuana System
Under proposed laws pending in the Michigan legislature, the rules for medical marijuana may soon become even stricter. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs may regulate cannabis production with minimum insurance requirements and a standardized testing and quality control system. So-called “marihuana facilities” may have to meet exacting standards that the department can change at its discretion.
Violations of these new cannabis industry rules may result in fines of $5,000 per individual and $10,000 per licensed entity or the sum of daily sales—whichever is greater.
In addition, the state may put in place a digitized “seed to sale” tracking system to ensure that no cannabis slips into the black market from legal grow operations. Seeds, plants, and packages will be given unique identifiers, and only licensed professionals will be able to transport the product. Businesses will have to keep precise records of their sales and input this information into the statewide reporting system.
For the first violation of this proposed law, the offender will face a $1,000 civil fine. Subsequent violations will be considered criminal misdemeanors will be involving 93 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,500.
Many observers fear that these new laws will push up the prices of medical marijuana and make it harder to grow, purchase, and use medical marijuana legally. This will result in more and more people resorting to the black market to meet their treatment needs.
Defending the Rights of Medical Marijuana Growers and Patients
The reality of medical marijuana has yet to be accepted by many prosecutors and law enforcement officers in Michigan. Michigan patients and caregivers across the state have reported harassment by the authorities, and in many cases end up facing serious criminal charges for asserting what they thought was their legal right to heal themselves with cannabis. If you get charged with a marijuana-related offense, you should retain the services of a skilled Detroit medical marijuana lawyer immediately.
With extensive experience defending drug possession, manufacturing, and distribution cases in Michigan, Attorney Maurice Davis knows how to obtain the best possible results in medical marijuana cases. If you’re a registered medical marijuana patient or caregiver facing criminal charges or investigations, call Davis Law Group today at for a free and confidential consultation of your case.
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