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Marijuana Leaves Legal Experts Confused, Looking To State Supreme Court To Clear The Haze


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GRAND RAPIDS, MI - You don't have to be stoned to have trouble understanding the hazy tapestry of laws and ordinances governing marijuana in Michigan.

 

Not that long ago, understanding marijuana law was easy. It was illegal and possessing it could land a first-time offender in jail for anywhere from 93 days to one year.

 

Now, someone pulled over by police on Grand Rapids' S-curve with marijuana in the car could face a spectrum of consequences depending on whether the cop is a Grand

 

Rapids Police officer or a Michigan State Police trooper, and whether the driver has a Michigan medical marijuana card and if the card holder has the marijuana in the

trunk or in the glove box.

 

Defense attorneys like Bruce Block, marijuana advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors like William Forsyth agree that following the law is a challenge for everyone -

 

those seeking to enforce it as well as those seeking to adhere to it.

 

Grand Rapids passed its own ordinance changing possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor crime to a civil infraction.

 

But that law is now headed to the state Supreme Court because Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth says the local ordinance cannot co-exist with a state law that calls

for possession to be a crime punishable by jail.

 

Related: 'Not about voters' rights,' Kent County attorney argues about Grand Rapids marijuana decriminalization

 

Forsyth said he would be in favor of a law that would make first-time possession a civil infraction but he says that law needs to come from the state Legislature, not a mish-

mash of local ordinances.

"Charitably speaking, marijuana laws are confusing and inconsistent," Forsyth said.

 

Meanwhile, Kent County continues to aggressively prosecute people accused of violating Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act, an act so popular it passed in every county in

Michigan but still has resulted in jail for those who say they honestly tried to follow it, including four employees of the Kent County Sheriff's Department.

 

It is hoped that the Michigan Supreme Court will clear up conflicting decisions coming out of the circuit and appeals court as it considers three cases expected to define whether people can use the Medical Marijuana Act as a defense against criminal prosecution.

These cases are seen as central to whether the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act has any real value at all when it comes to allowing people to possess marijuana. If the Michigan Supreme Court reverses the lower court ruling, dozens of convictions could be affected.

"You have people doing everything they can - but he law is a moving target," Block said. "Just give us some rules we can follow."

16285699-large.jpgA shirt on display as part of the West Michigan Medical Marijuana Conference at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 7, 2014. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)Cory Morse

It is an area where the defense attorney and the county prosecutor agree.
"If you are legitimately trying to comply with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, it's not easy to do," Forsyth said.

Judges and law enforcement say the problems stem from a poorly-worded ballot initiative passed in 2008.

"Portions of the law are so poorly drafted and vaguely written that no one can easily determine a meaning," Forsyth says. "Unfortunately, its vagueness also provides a shield for those who attempt to use it as a means to engage in illegal marijuana trafficking."

Block says the problem is not with the law, but with law enforcement opposed to the very idea of legal marijuana use.

The legal climate has not followed the will of ‘we, the people,’ - Attorney Bruce Block
 

"I don't think the act was very complex. It was pretty plain English," said Block, who represents one of the former officers charged with violating the law. "The Court of Appeals just made a mess of it." 

Block says the will of the people in overwhelmingly passing the law is being ignored by police and prosecutors. Forsyth says his job is to enforce the law as it exists, whether or not he agrees with it.

The ruling by the state Supreme Court, likely to come this summer, is also awaited by city officials who are wondering how to address medical marijuana in their municipalities.

Wyoming had its restrictive medical marijuana provision struck down by the state Supreme Court last year and has not put anything new in its place until it can receive direction from the court.

"Let's see how it all sorts out," said Wyoming City Attorney Jack Sluiter, adding that currently marijuana dispensaries are simply illegal in Wyoming until further notice.

But all of these legal wranglings could be solved in one fell swoop if voters here passed a provision like those in Colorado and the state of Washington, essentially legalizing marijuana.

It is an idea opposed by Forsyth, who said legalization would open a Pandora's Box of problems.

But it is seen as inevitable by Block, who said the wave of public sentiment is clearly moving in the direction of legalization, especially among younger voters.

"The legal climate has not followed the will of 'we, the people,'" Block said. "There's no doubt in my mind the genie's out of the bottle."

The idea is opposed by Forsyth, who said Grand Rapids has already seen an increase in home robberies where people are growing marijuana in conformity with the ordinance. He says legalization would create a new set of problems for society and law enforcement.

An EPIC-MRI poll of Michiganders in December showed 50 percent of Michigan voters would be likely to support a future ballot proposal to legalize the possession or cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older, and allow taxable sales at state-licensed stores.

That favorable number rises to 69 percent with respondents between the age of 18 and 34. Democratic men were the group most in favor at 70 percent, followed by independent men at 56 percent and Democratic women at 55 percent. The poll also found that 39 percent of Republican women were in favor, which is slightly higher than the 35 percent support among Republican men.

 

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2015/02/marijuana_leaves_legal_experts.html

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And meanwhile, over in SE Michigan-Detroit, Ypsilanti, A2..................things are still confusing but not quite as confused as in GR and SW Michigan.

 

If only the AG back in '08 had............"

 

Read the quotes from Forsyth here, that is a dude who is going to prosecute people as long as he can if he has any chance.

 

The idea is opposed by Forsyth, who said Grand Rapids has already seen an increase in home robberies where people are growing marijuana in conformity with the ordinance. He says legalization would create a new set of problems for society and law enforcement.

 

Notice how it is "he says" and not a quote from him?

 

"Burglaries went from 2,779 four years ago to just 1,230 in 2014." - that is from the linked article. Burglaries were down as were narcotics offenses and prostitution. From that data they conclude that legalization has increased crime and created a problem. An unparalleled decrease in the City's crime rate since movement towards ending Prohibition and it scares the hell out of this feeder of the court system Forsyth.

 

That article illustrates what LEO and Prosecutors are fighting for everyday. It sure as hell isn't to "Protect and Serve the will of the People."

 

Nothing new to us though, we know they went rogue almost 80 years ago. Have to arrest those "jazz musicians" for something.

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One thing I do find confusing is If being a cop is so demanding and mmj users are lazy, why are cops so much fatter and out-of-shape than the average caregiver or patient?

Sittin on there asssses at the donut shop, and sitting in their cars all day long ... 

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Already caused more burglaries where people grow MJ according to the law.  Funny how 2 could look at that and get 2 different interpretations.  What it tells me is that the people want it and if the people want it it should be legal.  If it was legal, people wouldn't be breaking into houses for it.  Do they go into houses to steal alcohol or cigarettes?  If MJ was decriminalized, those burglars could become growers.  Therefore reducing burglaries in the area, reducing needs for police officers.  So, as i see it, cops want there cake and eat it too.  They'd rather arrest the bad MJ people than go after burglars, but they don't want to eliminate both burglaries AND arresting MJ patients.  It seems to me that they know the problems and are part of the problem but don't want to loose their jobs or make them harder.  I think that alone should keep them from lobbying as their interests are directly against that of a free community.

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Unfortunately, It seems as of now, You gota be a master of the Gray area. It is what it is currently. Whares the app to change that?lol Is anyone here active in or know those who deal with legislation? just wondering. wish I could or did. "Its all about who ya Know" as with alot a "stuff"

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Unfortunately, It seems as of now, You gota be a master of the Gray area. It is what it is currently. Whares the app to change that?lol Is anyone here active in or know those who deal with legislation? just wondering. wish I could or did. "Its all about who ya Know" as with alot a "stuff"

 

Woulda and coulda had a kid named shoulda and you still can.

 

And always use your one wish to get more wishes is my advice.

 

"Master the Gray area" as much as possible but the Court's Representatives in the community (LEO) have ultimate say. No sense trying to be overly glib and try to explain Section 4 protections on the roadside. Or perhaps there is. I've walked away a couple of times with a smile, nod and by throwing away the plant material offensive to the officer.

 

I can tell you get it. I'm speaking to you the same way I would talk to the voice in my head that feels powerless and omnipotent at the same time.

 

"Whares the app to change that?lol" - It's only available for use on a specific day and is a one-shot-Johnny and not overly effective if you don't want to vote for one of the lesser-evils. Usually the day is first week of November but it is active other times (There is a day in May in 2015).

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Yes I agree with you. I do try. And I dont think "the gray area" should have to be masterd. I dont wish, just on bad days i guess.Im a BE ABOUT IT RATHER THEN JUST TALK ABOUT type of person, when I can. Not that others arnt. yeah I dont know.....kinda go by exsperiance and what I see. And I hear ya. 

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Yes I agree with you. I do try. And I dont think "the gray area" should have to be masterd. I dont wish, just on bad days i guess.Im a BE ABOUT IT RATHER THEN JUST TALK ABOUT type of person, when I can. Not that others arnt. yeah I dont know.....kinda go by exsperiance and what I see. And I hear ya.

which "gray area" do you speak of ?

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Read the quotes from Forsyth here, that is a dude who is going to prosecute people as long as he can if he has any chance.

 

The idea is opposed by Forsyth, who said Grand Rapids has already seen an increase in home robberies where people are growing marijuana in conformity with the ordinance. He says legalization would create a new set of problems for society and law enforcement.

 

Notice how it is "he says" and not a quote from him?

 

"Burglaries went from 2,779 four years ago to just 1,230 in 2014." - that is from the linked article. Burglaries were down as were narcotics offenses and prostitution. From that data they conclude that legalization has increased crime and created a problem. An unparalleled decrease in the City's crime rate since movement towards ending Prohibition and it scares the hell out of this feeder of the court system Forsyth.

 

That article illustrates what LEO and Prosecutors are fighting for everyday. It sure as hell isn't to "Protect and Serve the will of the People."

 

Nothing new to us though, we know they went rogue almost 80 years ago. Have to arrest those "jazz musicians" for something.

Thank you i agree

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Thank you i agree

https://www.aclu.org/blog/prisoners-rights-criminal-law-reform/perhaps-saddest-profit-motive-ever

 

"In Pennsylvania, there are two companies called PA Child Care LLC and Western PA Child Care. You might think that these companies offer services and supports to kids to help them become productive adults. You’d be wrong.

 

These companies offered kickbacks to two Luzerne County, PA judges in exchange for these judges contracting with the company and sentencing 6,500 teenagers to spend time in two for-profit youth prisons these companies run. And although the two judges found guilty of accepting bribes are now serving prison terms themselves, the two private youth prisons remain open and continue to profit from incarcerating children in Pennsylvania."

 

Would we think Prosecutors weren't complicit in some form? Is there a thought that "This couldn't happen here"? I don't think so. "Looking out for their own, while protecting the moral fiber of America." I'm sure is their justification for the continuation of racist policies designed to segregate society.

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Per Mother Jones: What Do Prisoners Make for Victoria's Secret?

From Starbucks to Microsoft: a sampling of what US inmates make, and for whom

—Caroline Winter | July/August 2008 Issue

 

Tens of thousands of US inmates are paid from pennies to minimum wage—minus fines and victim compensation—for everything from grunt work to firefighting to specialized labor. Here's a sampling of what they make, and for whom.

 

Eating in: Each month, California inmates process more than 680,000 pounds of beef, 400,000 pounds of chicken products, 450,000 gallons of milk, 280,000 loaves of bread, and 2.9 million eggs (from 160,000 inmate-raised hens). Starbucks subcontractor Signature Packaging Solutions has hired Washington prisoners to package holiday coffees (as well as Nintendo Game Boys). Confronted by a reporter in 2001, a Starbucks rep called the setup "entirely consistent with our mission statement."

 

Around the Big House: Texas inmates produce brooms and brushes, bedding and mattresses, toilets, sinks, showers, and bullwhips. Bullwhips?

 

Windows dressing: In the mid-1990s, Washington prisoners shrink-wrapped software and up to 20,000 Microsoft mouses for subcontractor Exmark (other reported clients: Costco and JanSport). "We don't see this as a negative," a Microsoft spokesman said at the time. Dell used federal prisoners for PC recycling in 2003, but stopped after a watchdog group warned that it might expose inmates to toxins.

 

Back to school: Texas and California inmates make dorm furniture and lockers, diploma covers, binders, logbooks, library book carts, locker room benches, and juice boxes.

 

Patriotic duties: Federal Prison Industries, a.k.a. Unicor, says that in addition to soldiers' uniforms, bedding, shoes, helmets, and flak vests, inmates have "produced missile cables (including those used on the Patriot missiles during the Gulf War)" and "wiring harnesses for jets and tanks." In 1997, according to Prison Legal News, Boeing subcontractor MicroJet had prisoners cutting airplane components, paying $7 an hour for work that paid union wages of $30 on the outside.

 

The law won: In Texas, prisoners make officers' duty belts, handcuff cases, and prison-cell accessories. California convicts make gun containers, creepers (to peek under vehicles), and human-silhouette targets.

 

A stitch in time: California inmates sew their own garb. In the 1990s, subcontractor Third Generation hired 35 female South Carolina inmates to sew lingerie and leisure wear for Victoria's Secret and JCPenney. In 1997, a California prison put two men in solitary for telling journalists they were ordered to replace "Made in Honduras" labels on garments with "Made in the usa."

 

Open wide: At California's prison dental laboratory, inmates produce a complete prosthesis selection, including custom trays, try-ins, bite blocks, and dentures.

 

Constructive criticism: Prisoners in for burglary, battery, drug and gun charges, and escape helped build a Wal-Mart distribution center in Wisconsin in 2005, until community uproar halted the program. (Company policy says, "Forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart.")

 

On call: Its inmate call centers are the "best kept secret in outsourcing," Unicor boasts. In 1994, a contractor for gop congressional hopeful Jack Metcalf hired Washington state prisoners to call and remind voters he was pro-death penalty. Metcalf, who prevailed, said he never knew.

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https://www.aclu.org/blog/prisoners-rights-criminal-law-reform/perhaps-saddest-profit-motive-ever

 

"In Pennsylvania, there are two companies called PA Child Care LLC and Western PA Child Care. You might think that these companies offer services and supports to kids to help them become productive adults. You’d be wrong.

 

These companies offered kickbacks to two Luzerne County, PA judges in exchange for these judges contracting with the company and sentencing 6,500 teenagers to spend time in two for-profit youth prisons these companies run. And although the two judges found guilty of accepting bribes are now serving prison terms themselves, the two private youth prisons remain open and continue to profit from incarcerating children in Pennsylvania."

 

Would we think Prosecutors weren't complicit in some form? Is there a thought that "This couldn't happen here"? I don't think so. "Looking out for their own, while protecting the moral fiber of America." I'm sure is their justification for the continuation of racist policies designed to segregate society.

Disgraced Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for conspiring with private prisons to sentence juvenile offenders to maximum sentences for bribes and kickbacks which totaled millions of dollars. He was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution.

 

 

Guilty and going to prison for 28 years

 

 

abc.com

 

In the private prison industry the more time an inmate spends in a facility, the more of a profit is reaped from the state. Ciavearella was a figurehead in a conspiracy in the state of Pennsylvania which saw thousands of young men and women unjustly punished and penalized in the name of corporate profit.

 

According to allgov.com Ciavearella's cases from 2003 - 2008 were reviewed by a special investigative panel and later by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and it was found that upwards of 5,000 young men and women were denied their constitutional rights, and therefore all of their convictions were dismissed and were summarily released.

 

During his sentencing Ciavarella was defiant, claiming he had broken no laws and claimed the money he received was a legitimate 'finder's fee.' Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said comments such as these were typical of Ciavarella, according to the local reporting of citizensvoice.com:

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Yes I agree with you. I do try. And I dont think "the gray area" should have to be masterd. I dont wish, just on bad days i guess.Im a BE ABOUT IT RATHER THEN JUST TALK ABOUT type of person, when I can. Not that others arnt. yeah I dont know.....kinda go by exsperiance and what I see. And I hear ya. 

I understand Kspot, and take a different approach that sees no gray areas in the law, but considerations that are only properly described as areas of power. The struggle is not a result of the text of the law, but rather in throwing down and arguing and bickering with the government. We will continue to stand our ground. The nasty players in the government will continue to stand theirs. We know many of those who are disingenuous, and I find that understanding that as the fundamental issue lends itself to a more workable style.

 

I hope.

Edited by GregS
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hey bob, have you talked to joel in a while? is he going to beat your record in court? 5 years? 2010 to 2015?

11/01/2012  i did talk to him a few weeks ago he has a few more years to go to catch up with our case he is stressed out and it's not good for his health 

 

The Ferndale case has started again 

 

Clinical Relief

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