bobandtorey Posted October 31, 2013 Report Share Posted October 31, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Christian Hines, a registered medical marijuana patient, had pot in his backpack when his Chevy Silverado pickup was pulled over by police near Cascade Road SE and Forest Hills Avenue at 2:47 a.m. on June 24. A Kent County Sheriff’s deputy found the marijuana. Although Hines, 22, was legally allowed to have the marijuana, the deputy issued him a ticket for improper transportation of medical marijuana in a vehicle. Hines is among the first people in Kent County to be charged with this misdemeanor, which came into effect only a few months before he was stopped. As 2013 progresses, the charge is showing up more often on district court dockets throughout Michigan. Attorney Bruce Block To Bruce Block, a Grand Rapids attorney who specializes in law related to medical marijuana, the statute is little more than another stab at the voter-approved Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. “It just seems like another way to harass medical marijuana users,” Block said. “I think it’s a bunch of crap.” Public Act 460 states that medical marijuana must be enclosed in a case that is carried in the trunk of the vehicle. If the vehicle has no trunk, then the marijuana must be enclosed in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle. Violating the law is a misdemeanor punishable by as much as 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. The act became enforceable this year after passing unanimously in the State Senate and by a margin of 98-10 in the State House during the December lame duck session of the state Legislature. State Rep. Ben Glardon The bill was introduced by Owosso Republican state Rep. Ben Glardon, who said the law is not intended to harass anyone, but is simply is a way to clear up the ambiguities that have plagued the Medical Marijuana Act. He said the law is not much different than laws that prohibit open alcohol containers in motor vehicles, and really serves as a protection for medical marijuana users who may have come under suspicion when transporting their marijuana. “This helps eliminate some confusion,” Glardon said. “It wasn’t done as a harassment, at least not on my part.” Glardon said he recognizes that the MMMA was approved by voters and is the law of the state. He said he knows this act does not call for commonly abused prescription drugs to be locked in a trunk. “But if you had a bunch of pills out on the seat of your car, police might find that suspicious,” Glardon said. Glardon said he has heard from proponents of medical marijuana who appreciate having the guidelines that help them avoid coming into conflict with law enforcement. Block said he has represented a number of clients in regard to this law and is finding that as long as the person is generally law-abiding, courts are not using the law to slam legal users too harshly. “I’m not seeing judges send people to jail. Mostly it is fines and costs,” Block said. But nevertheless, Block says the law may be looking at a constitutional challenge because the MMMA states that as long as a patient or caregiver complies with the MMMA, they are not subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any way. Related: Michigan shows 'zeal to make felons' out of medical marijuana providers, Grand Rapids attorney says The new law regarding the transportation of marijuana is not contained within the MMMA. The transport bill passed by majorities large enough that it could have amended the MMMA, but Glardon said that was not politically viable at the time. “To revisit the whole subject, there really wasn’t an appetite for that,” Glardon said. “Taking it in bits and pieces was a more manageable approach.” This law applies only to marijuana that can be smoked or used in other ways. It does not apply to live marijuana plants or seeds. Block says the transportation law shows just one of the many confusing aspects of the MMMA as the courts deliver contradictory opinions and the Legislature creates new hoops to jump through. Block warns that anyone attempting to use medical marijuana should do a careful and complete study of the applicable laws. Records show Hines’ case has languished in the courts for four months, some of the delay due to the defendant’s failure to show up for hearings, but it now appears the case will be settled prior to jury selection scheduled for Nov. 14 in Kent County District Court. It is likely that Hines will be slapped with fines and court costs when all is said and done. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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