In a somewhat illogical opinion, the Court of Appeals in People v. Mansour ruled that a person with recently-harvested wet marijuana does not have the protections of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. The decision makes it impossible for any marijuana grower to legally comply with the MMMA.
What Happened in the Case
The Troy police searched a home belonging to a medical marijuana caregiver. The search revealed 126 marijuana plants and 550 grams of marijuana buds that were drying after being harvested. The search also revealed a firearm.
The Defendant was charged with delivery and manufacture of marijuana in the amount between 20 20 and 200 marijuana plants, one count of delivery or marijuana, and two counts of felony-firearm.
Defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on Section 4 of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Section 4 provides immunity from penalty where the person is in compliance with the MMMA.
The motion focused on the drying marijuana buds. Defendant argued these buds were unusable, and should be excluded from consideration under the Section 4 claim.
The Defendant’s compliance with the MMMA in this case depended on whether the amount of marijuana was within the allowable limits, which is 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana, or 15 for a caregiver.
Defendant argued that a portion of the marijuana in his possession was drying marijuana (recently-harvested, not yet smokeable), and should not be considered as part of the overall weight of marijuana he is entitled to possess.
The Defendant’s argument centered on People v. Manuel. In Manuel, the Court focused on the question of what was usable marijuana. Manuel held that usable marijuana does not include marijuana in the stage of drying.
The drying stage, known as curing, is an essential part of the marijuana growing process. Freshly-harvested marijuana is still wet and cannot be smoked. It must be dried before it’s smoked.
However, the Court stated that Manuel did not discuss the case of Carruthers, which held that a person was not entitled to be in possession of unusable marijuana. That is, a registered patient or caregiver loses immunity when in possession of any unusable marijuana.
The Prosecution relied on the case of People v. Carruthers. In Carruthers, the Court said the question is not just how much usable marijuana a person has, but whether a person has unusable marijuana as well.
A person who has unusable marijuana is not afforded the protections of the law, said the Court. Here is a quote from Carruthers the Court relies upon, “the language establishing limited immunity in § 4 of the MMMA expressly conditions that immunity on the person possessing no amount of marijuana that does not qualify as usable marijuana under the applicable definitions.”
The Takeaway of the Case
The case doesn’t make a lot of sense. It seems to say that a person in possession of drying marijuana may not receive the protections of the MMMA. However, as every marijuana grower knows, marijuana must be dried after it is harvested and before it can be smoked. Marijuana cannot be used until it is first dried.
Yet now the Court is saying a person growing marijuana cannot receive the protections of the law because they possess drying marijuana. Every single marijuana grower must have wet and drying marijuana at some point in the process.
This would make it impossible to grow marijuana and be compliant with the law. This opinion creates a rule that is the opposite of the spirit and intent of the MMMA.
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Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor lawyer focusing on marijuana law and criminal defense.
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