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Confusion Over Medical Marijuana Laws Often Leads to Charges

August 6, 2015 | Written by Dan Margolis

Ohio has not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, but a growing number of states have done one or the other. Michigan is among the states that have statutes allowing medical cannabis for at least some illnesses, but confusion about the 2008 law has led to that state’s Supreme Court issuing nine rulings interpreting the rights of clients and distributors.

The most recent ruling has led prosecutors to dismiss drug charges against at least five defendants in one county alone, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Supreme Court’s ruling had to do with when caregivers and users can use their medical cannabis certification as an affirmative defense or for immunity against marijuana charges.

The ruling seems to make it easier for defendants to claim the immunity contained in Michigan’s medical marijuana law. A county prosecutor told the newspaper that they now would need specific evidence against the accused to overcome their immunity claims, and that they lack sufficient evidence in several cases.

One of those cases involved a license provider whose home was raided in July 2014. She told police that she had six ounces of marijuana in a locked bag that she intended to exchange with another caregiver for another strain, and distribute the new strain to her patients. Officers seized her car, electronics and other items during the raid, and have held onto them since. That property will now be returned, the prosecutor said.

Though this legal development does not impact Ohio, it provides a possible glimpse into the future. If Ohio ever legalizes marijuana for medicinal purposes, or fully decriminalizes it, there could be a great deal of confusion and unfair charges, at least in the first few years.

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