Lessons From Brown

The 2008 voter initiative Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) has been through a lot in the last 4 years, and so has its’ community. Over 132,000 patients and numerous caregivers have struck out as bold frontiersman in the new wilderness of medical cannabis law. The MMMA passed with a 63% margin; more votes were cast for this law than any other in the history of Michigan elections, but our silent majority has been drowned out in an onslaught of fear mongering propaganda and political grandstanding.

HB 4850 and 4851 were originally introduced almost 2 years ago with the purported goal of fixing or clarifying the MMMA. These Bills will likely be put to a vote prior to the end of the legislative term, but why should they?

We must remember that the legislature began the process of attempting to amend the law prior to the Michigan Supreme Court’s first opinion relative to MMJ, which surprised many of the critics, finding in favor of a patient and caregiver friendly interpretation. Many pundits were even more surprised that this opinion was unanimous from a court that has a difficult time agreeing on anything. But one thing that was certain from the ruling was that the limited interpretation offered by the State’s leading law enforcement agent, prosecutors, police and the court of appeals was incorrect.

Despite overwhelming popular support and the rulings of the highest court in Michigan, the legislature blindly forges ahead in its mission to mutilate the MMMA. HB 4834 would reverse much of the progress offered by the Supreme Court, allowing access to the registry to a broad list of officials. Despite the obvious privacy violations and probable law suits that will ensue, democrats and republicans alike are considering releasing MMJ users’ personal medical information. No citizen has ever in American history or jurisprudence been subject to such privacy violations. Worse yet, these medical cannabis patients were promised in 2008 that this would never happen.

State officials argue that access to the registry would allow police to know who is a patient or caregiver prior to executing a warrant. Perhaps, this would be a reasonable justification for a gross violation of HIPAA law if it were needed.

The people vs. Brown found that a search warrant affidavit need not establish that a person is in violation of the MMMA. Law enforcement officers are not required to investigate or make a determination if the target is a patient or caregiver in order to get a search warrant. Law enforcement access to the registry is therefore not needed; their prior justification is no longer valid. I am personally not in favor of giving up my medical information to the state under any pretense.

Looking at the statistics from the vote there were 22 no votes on HB 4834; 29 total no votes would stop the bill from becoming law. Representative Calton has committed to change his vote to a NO. That leaves Only 6 votes needed to change this. 6 votes! This can be accomplished.