Jun 12, 2015

Married to the Medical Marijuana Patient

Justice Richard Bernstein
Yesterday, the Michigan Supreme Court, in one of Justice Richard Bernstein's first opinions, held that when a husband-wife medical marijuana operation is not conducted in strict accord with the Medical Marijuana Act, the wife, whose role was limited to assisting with the harvest schedule, is not afforded immunity under the MMA. So let's break that down.

In the case, People v Cynthia Mazur, Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O'Brien denied defendant's request for immunity under the act because the grow operation conducted within the marital home was not in accord with the provisions of the MMA. Ms Mazur's role in the operation was limited to writing-out the harvest schedule of the pot plants on sticky notes.

Defendant's husband was both a registered marijuana patient as well as a care-provider. Ms. Mazur, however, was neither.

She appealed the trial court's denial of her request for immunity, but the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Judge O'Brien's ruling. The Supreme Court agreed to take a look. In its opinion, the High Court left the door open for the defendant, however, by ruling that her sticky notes detailing harvest dates constituted supplying hubby with "marijuana paraphernalia" as that phrase is defined in the act.

Accordingly, Justice Bernstein's opinion concluded that if these sticky notes were the prosecutor's only evidence, then the charges against Mazur had to be dismissed; the prosecutor could, however, rely on other evidence to secure a conviction, the Court held.

This case is the first of a triad of pot cases from the Oakland County Circuit Court to result in an opinion from the Michigan Supreme Court. Decisions in the two remaining cases are expected within the next few weeks as the High Court prepares to end its 2014-2015 term.

One of the take-aways from this case is that spouses of registered patients may avail themselves of the immunity of the MMA, even if they are not registered care providers or patients, if the operation is conducted in strict accord with the act.  If the operation is rogue or being conducted outside compliance with the MMA, then criminal liability can attach to the non-registered spouse.

We note, and perhaps this is the other take-away, that the Mazurs are now divorced.


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