Dispensaries & the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act

In the continuing saga of Michigan Medical Marijuana litigation a recent case dismissing charges against seven defendants was re-instated by our Michigan Court of Appeals. The case involved the running of a medical marijuana dispensary. Now all defendants face trial on the original charges.
The defendants owned and operated or were employed by Clinical Relief, a marijuana dispensary in Ferndale, Michigan, which provided marijuana to patients who possessed medical marijuana cards. The defendants argued that their conduct was based on a reasonable understanding of the law and the charges against them should be dismissed as a matter of law. Further, the defendants argued that the provisions in the MMMA, were ambiguous and there was no way of knowing that their conduct was illegal. The Circuit Court agreed with the defendants about the ambiguous nature of the MMMA, specifically stating that MCL 333.26424 (b), (e), when juxtaposed with (i) is ambiguous and granted the defendants’ motion.
The Michigan Court of Appeals decided that the Circuit Court erroneously dismissed the charges against all seven defendants without requiring the defendants to demonstrate that they were entitled to the protections afforded under the MMMA. The Court of Appeals opined that the defendants never explained which provisions of the MMMA allegedly gave rise to this “good faith belief” that their conduct was legal. The Court of Appeals also decided that the “rule of lenity” is not applicable because it does not apply to the Public Health Code, which is to be liberally construed. The case is reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the charges against the defendants.


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