Drug Crimes

In The News

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prior Convictions Will Not Disqualify Someone Under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Statute

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Drug Crimes

Just because you have a prior conviction involving marijuana or other controlled substances, you are not prohibited from obtaining a medical marijuana certificate. The Medical Marijuana Statute (MMS) was passed in 2008 by Michigan voters. The MMS states that “A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner…provided that the qualifying patient posses an amount…that does not exceed 2.5 ounces…and 12 marihuana plants”. MCL 333.26424(a). In other words, a person would have to meet two criteria in order to be protected by this statute: That person would have to be a “qualifying patient” and would have to be issued and possess a “registry identification card”.

To be a “qualifying patient”, a person would have to be “diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition.” MCL 333.26423((h). These conditions are listed under MCL 333.26426(a), and include (but are not limited to) Cancer, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, and Crohn’s Disease. The criteria to obtain a registry identification card are listed in MCL 333.26426(a)-(b). More importantly, the criteria for denying an application for the registry identification card states that “The department may deny an application or renewal only if the applicant did not provide the information required pursuant to this section, of if the department determines that the information provided was falsified.” (Emphasis added.) MCL 333.2426(c).

Going back over the information that is required to be disclosed under MCL 333.2426(a)-(b), the statute makes no mention of a prior conviction of any kind – either misdemeanor or felony. Therefore, based on this information, a prior criminal history, even for prior drug convictions, should not prevent a person from obtaining a registry identification card. However, given how new the MMS is (it was enacted in 2008), challenges and changes to this statute are inevitable. In fact, there is already a bill that has been introduced to amend the protections given to the “qualifying patients” who have been issued and possess “a registry identification card”. See 2009 Michigan House Bill 5289 for the proposed amendments.

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.