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Newburg Law Medical Marijuana Attorneys Obtain Circuit Court Appeal Victory Dismissing 17 Felony Charges


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On June 28, 2013, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina denied Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request to reinstate 17 felony charges against Daniel Corbin, Zebediah Dewey, Michael Lewis, Jr. and Rick Gouin.  

Disclaimer: Newburg Law represented all four defendants and are Lansing Criminal Attorneys specializing in Medical Marijuana representation and high severity crimes in Michigan.

In 2012, Michigan’s Attorney General filed criminal charges against four individuals. The Defendants worked at a Lansing dispensary and sold marijuana to undercover officers.  After a preliminary examination, Lansing district court Judge Hugh Clark dismissed the charges finding, among other items, that the MMMA needed clarification. People v Corbin et al – District Court – PDF

The Attorney General appealed that decision to the Ingham County Circuit Court. Specifically, he argued that Judge Clark abused his discretion by dismissing the felony counts and that the MMMA never permitted transfers of marijuana between anyone other than a Patient and his/her Caregiver. The Attorney General largely relied on the the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court decisions inState v McQueen (Court of AppealsSupreme Court) for his arguments that the defendants were not protected by the MMMA. 

In contrast, Newburg Law attorneys argued that even if theMcQueen decisions prohibited the Defendants’ conduct, the Defendants should not be held criminally liable because they largely acted before those opinions were released. In short, that it would be unconstitutional to punish them when they were not properly on notice of what conduct is prohibited. 

The Opinion: Judge Aquilina recapped the McQueen decisions and, given the Supreme Court’s McQueen opinionwhich held that patients are not protected by the MMMA for transferring marijuana to another patient, concluded the four instant Defendants violated the MMMA.  

However, the Court then agreed with Newburg Law’s argument and said, despite the opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court, the 17 felony charges should be dismissed. Judge Aquilina wrote: “[t]o hold defendant criminally liable in this action based on the Michigan Supreme Court’s clarification of the ambiguous provisions in McQueen operates as an Ex Post Facto law and is unconstitutional.”  

One of the key factors in this case was the language used (and not used) in Sections 4(b) and 4(e). Specifically, that one provision includes a requirement that the patient and caregiver be connected and one does not. The Court found this ambiguous, stating: 

 

Under Section 4(b), Defendant’s conduct was not within the MMMA because the parties were not connected.  The necessary connection in Section 4(b), and lack of any such language in Section 4(e) from which such a construction could be implied, demonstrates ambiguity as to whether a patient and caregiver must be connected in order for the caregiver to assist in the medical use and be compensated for such…this Court concludes the District Court did not abuse its discretion.  There is ambiguity created by the poorly drafted, conflicting provisions of the MMMA concerning whether a caregiver must be connected to the patient to whom the caregiver is assisting . . . . Further, the Defendant’s transactions do not amount to those that were deemed “sales” in 
McQueen.
 Without guidance as to what distinguishes prohibited sales from authorized compensation, it was not outside the range of principled outcomes for the District Court to determine Defendant’s transactions were authorized…

As a result, the circuit court affirmed the District Court’s decision to dismiss the felony charges. The Attorney General may appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals. 

http://www.onmedicalmarijuana.com/2013/07/07/ingham-county-judge-upholds-dismissal-of-17-felony-counts-against-medical-marijuana-patients-and-caregivers/

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