The case of People v. Manuel is a 2017 Michigan Court of Appeals case with a good discussion of drying marijuana v. usable marijuana.
The Case Facts
Defendant had a grow operation in his garage, and police found marijuana in tin containers. The police seized the marijuana found and weighed it. The first time the police weighed the marijuana it came out to 1,195 grams. The second time the marijuana was weighed it came out to 1,069 grams. These amounts would be about twice the limit of 425.24 grams allowed. However, there was a question of whether the marijuana was usable or was drying.
A Michigan State University Professor testified the difference in weight could be due to moisture in the marijuana. As time passed, the recently harvested marijuana dried and the marijuana became lighter. This evidence showed the marijuana was in a state of drying because the evaporating moisture could account for the lightening weight.
A second issue in the case was whether the marijuana grow operation was kept in an enclosed, locked facility.
Defendant file a motion seeking dismissal of the charges based on Section 4 immunity under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Section 4 allows a person to assert immunity where there is compliance with the MMMA.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act imposes weight limitations for usable marijuana. Usable marijuana is defined as the dried leaves, flowers, plant resin, or extract of the marihuana plant, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant. Marijuana when harvested is moist or wet, and must be dried before use, a process referred to growers as ‘curing.’ Moist or drying marijuana is not considered usable. Marijuana in the process of drying will not count as usable marijuana.
The First Issue – Usable Marijuana
The issue for the Court was whether the marijuana was “usable.” The weight limitations imposed by the MMMA apply only to “usable” marijuana.
The Court found the evidence showed the marijuana was drying rather than dried, making the marijuana unusable. Unusable marijuana doesn’t count toward the overall weight limitations under the law.
The Second Issue – Locked Facility
Marijuana grow operations must be kept in an enclosed, locked facility for a person to receive Section 4 immunity.
The grow operation was located behind two different doors with locks. The first door had two padlocks. At the time of the police search, the doors were not locked and they were keys in the locks. In addition, there were some plants sitting in plain sight in the garage.
The defendant had testified that he was in the process of transferring the marijuana to another person right at the time the search occurred. The defendant testified the transfer was taking place about two or three minutes before the search. Furthermore, the defendant stated the only reason the doors were unlocked was for the transfer.
The Court believed the defendant took extensive measures to keep the marijuana in an enclosed locked facility
In the end, the Court ruled the defendant had the protections of Section 4 immunity under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.
Sam Bernstein is an Ann Arbor Criminal Defense Lawyer.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108
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