FAQ’s About Medical Marijuana Cases and Licensing
In 2008, Michigan voted to permit the use of marijuana by those persons who were determined to be qualifying patients. The Michigan Medical Marihauna Act (MMMA) sets forth the conditions that qualify a person to be eligible to apply for a license to use medical marijuana. The MMMA also provided that caregivers, licensed by the state, could grow marijuana for up to five qualifying patients, under certain conditions. A person could be both a qualifying patient and a caregiver. The MMMA provided limits on the amount of marijuana that a qualifying patient or a caregiver could have at one time. The MMMA has been modified and amended several times since it was initially enacted into law. The most recent amendment put restrictions on how marijuana can be transported by a qualifying patient or caregiver in a motor vehicle.
Until recently, qualifying patients had to buy marijuana from their caregiver, or, in some instances, they would be able to purchase their medicine from a medical marijuana dispensary. However, those dispensaries and the growers that supplied them, were largely operating illegally. However, beginning on December 15, 2017, dispensaries, growers, secured transporters, caregivers and patients may begin applying to receive licenses to operate dispensaries, supplier grow operations and secured transport licenses, from the State of Michigan. The Michigan Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, passed just this year, allows for applications to be submitted to a new State Regulatory Agency, and to begin operating certain types of facilities legally in the State of Michigan. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we field on a regular basis from clients who either need a defense attorney for a criminal matter where the MMMA is applicable, or for clients who want to be ready and prepared for the application process to obtain one of the new licenses that will be available.
Do I qualify for a medical marijuana card?
You might. In order to become a qualified patient, you must first have a physician certify that you have a qualifying condition for which medical marijuana can be prescribed as part of treatment. However, not just any physician can write you a script or certify that you have a qualifying condition. The statute requires that the physician who certifies you have the condition must be one with whom you have a verifiable physician-patient relationship. Such a relationship cannot be established in one or two visits with a physician. Rather, it is one that accrues over the course of time.
The following list contains the conditions which the MMMA recognizes as grounds for becoming a qualifying patient:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
HIV or AIDS
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Ulcerative Colitis
So long as a physician with whom a person has a physician-patient relationship diagnoses one of these conditions, you can submit an application to the State of Michigan for a Michigan Medical Marijuana Card to become a qualifying patient. There is a $100 fee that must be submitted with the application to the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, along with you application and the attendant paperwork.
Primary caregivers, who are allowed to grow marijuana for up to five qualifying patients, must also obtain a license.
In order to obtain a caregiver license, a person must meet the following criteria:
The person must be 21 years of age
The person must not have a criminal record with a violent felony or a drug related felony
The person must not have any felony convictions within the last ten years prior to the date of application.
Caregivers must also apply with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and pay the requisite fee. A caregiver can only have up to five qualified patients, and each qualified patient may only have one primary caregiver to provide them with medical marijuana.
I heard the State is going to issues licenses to growers and dispensaries. Can I qualify for one? Can I get more than one license?
Starting on December 15, 2017, the State of Michigan is going to accept applications for dispensary licenses, grower licenses, and secured transporter licenses. Each of the licenses will have different qualifications and standards for applying.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the licensing process. First, it is not as simple as submitting the application forms. The State has a very strict list of requirements that must be met, including a completed criminal background check, and financial funding standards that must be met depending on the type and class of license that you are applying to receive. Each license has different classes and different qualifications. To determine if you are eligible for any of the available licenses, set up an appointment and we can discuss your individual situation.
The State has sent a number of notices regarding the upcoming licenses. A person can apply for and receive multiple licenses. One person may operate conjointly a dispensary, grow operation and secured transportation operation from the same location. Again, the process of applying for and potentially obtaining any one of these licenses, let alone multiple licenses is not a simple process. The complexities are too substantial to try and summarize here. Not only are there a number of hurdles that must be overcome as part of the application process, there are substantial regulations to ensure compliance with the law after the application is obtained, along with potential land use and zoning issues for the facilities themselves. We can help guide you through the process and help to ensure that you have the best chance of getting approved.
The police arrested me for possession/possession with intent to deliver (PWID) marijuana, but I’m a licensed qualifying patient and/or caregiver. How can they arrest me?
Like most legal issues, medical marijuana cases are not as simple as having a caregiver or qualified patient card that makes you completely immune from arrest or prosecution.
While the MMMA does provide immunity from arrest and from prosecution in some circumstances, they are not automatically applicable. The Courts have limited the extent to which the immunities can be applied, and the statute has been amended to add further qualifications. Here are some things that must be considered by your attorney when they meet with you, to determine if you are eligible to use one of the immunity defenses.
Did you have your caregiver and/or qualified patient card on your person when you were arrested?
Did you have more than 2 ounces of usable marijuana, marijuana derivative, or edible marijuana?
If you were a caregiver, did you have more than 2 live plants per patient registered to you?
Did you sell, give or share you marijuana with another person who is not a qualified patient?
Did you use the marijuana in a public place?
Did you have your plants stored in a locked, secured building, inaccessible to others?
Can I transport my medical marijuana inside my car?
Yes and no. You cannot have the medical marijuana on your person in the passenger compartment of the car.
The MMMA was recently amended to include the requirement if a qualified patient or caregiver is transporting medical marijuana it must be transported in a locked box in the trunk of the vehicle. There are some limited exceptions, but before you transport medical marijuana in your car, and not in the trunk, realize that you are subjecting yourself to the potential for arrest and criminal prosecution. If you have any questions, ensure that you have your Medical Marijuana Card (caregiver or patient) on your person when you drive, and that you have any marijuana inside the trunk inaccessible to the passengers or passenger compartment.
How much marijuana am I allowed to possess as a qualifying patient/caregiver?
A qualifying patient may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana, marijuana derivatives or edible marijuana under the new statute.
One qualifying patient may also have up to twelve (12) live marijuana plants from which to collect marijuana. A licensed caregiver may possess marijuana for up to five patients, or 12.5 ounces, or twelve (12) plants for each patient for which they are a caregiver, so sixty (60) plants. If a caregiver is also a qualified patient, then he or she may possess 2.5 ounces for personal use, along with 12 more plants. All plants must be kept in a locked, secure facility, not accessible to other persons. The Courts have set forth strict guidelines for what constitutes a locked facility, so make sure you speak to an attorney to ensure compliance.
Is it true that even though the State of Michigan has permitted the medical use of marijuana, I could still be charged with a federal crime?
Yes, that is true. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS NOT LEGALIZED THE USE, POSSESSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF MARIJUANA FOR ANY REASON.
As a result, if you are arrested by a Federal Agent, you can be prosecuted in Federal Court, even if you have fully complied with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. There is a distinct possibility that the Federal Government may raid newly licensed grow facilities or dispensaries, once they are operational. The fact that the activity is sanctioned and permitted by the State of Michigan does not prevent the Federal Government from prosecuting the activity. Make sure you are set up with an attorney who understands this distinction, and who is prepared to defend you in Federal Court, should the worst happen.
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236