The Court of Appeals Discusses Sections 4 and 8 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in People v. Kiel

In People v. Kiel, the police discovered marijuana plants growing on defendant Kiel’s property after a routine aerial surveillance. The police found 66-69 plants and seized 30 plants after Kiel produced medical marijuana cards for three people. Kiel was ultimately convicted for manufacturing marijuana.

In a pretrial motion, the Kiel sought dismissal of the charge based on the immunity provided in Section 4 and the affirmative defense in Sections 8 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

Section 4 provides patients and caregivers immunity from prosecution where the defendant possessed a registry card, possessed no more than the permitted amount of marijuana, and kept the marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility.

Section 8 is an affirmative defense that can be raised where the defendant meets three requirements. The defendant must show a physician’s statement that the defendant could benefit from marijuana use, the defendant did not possess an amount that was more than reasonable necessary to receive that benefit, and the defendant’s marijuana use was to treat a debilitating medical condition.

The trial court found that Kiel could not meet the requirements of the Section 4.  Defendant was a registered caregiver of 4 qualified patients, permitting him to have 12 plants per patient and so up to 48 plants total. Kiel claimed to be the caregiver of a fifth patient, but that person was not a qualifying patient registered with the state. Therefore, the defendant could not assert the Section 4 defense as to all of the plants. Moreover, defendant kept some of his plants in the front yard of his home, and not in an enclosed, locked facility.

On appeal, Kiel argued that he was entitled to Section 4 immunity as to all of the plants in his possession. The Court agreed with the trial court’s ruling on Section 4, stating that he did not meet all of the requirements of Section 4 to obtain that immunity.

The Court held that the Section 8 defense was still available to Kiel, and that questions of fact remained to be decided.

The Court concluded that Kiel established a prima facie case for a Section 8 defense and that there were questions of fact regarding that defense, such that while Kiel was not entitled to dismissal, he was entitled to raise the Section 8 defense at trial.

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