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People v. Tackman, Horner: Medical Marijuana Cards and the Secretary of State

May 8, 2017 Criminal Law and Procedure

The Michigan Court of Appeals cases of People v. Tackman and People v. Horner discussed whether a caregiver loses the ability to be a caregiver after a felony conviction.

The Ruling

The Court ruled that the Michigan Secretary of State is not obligated to actively revoke a person’s medical marijuana caregiver card if the person is convicted of a felony. What the Court effectively ruled is that a person immediately loses the ability to act as a caregiver once a person is convicted of a felony. The immunity for a caregiver under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is revoked upon a felony conviction.

What Happened

The defendants in this case had similar stories and their cases were consolidated for appeal.

The defendants were registered caregivers. The defendants were both convicted of manufacturing or delivery of marijuana, and Horner was additionally convicted of maintaining a drug house.

Following their convictions, the defendants were put on probation. Once on probation, the defendants got into some more trouble.

A police officer went to both of their houses and noticed the homes seemed to contain growing operations for marijuana. After searches, both defendants were charged with an assortment of offenses, including manufacturing marijuana.

At Issue

A person is ineligible to be a caregiver for medical marijuana patients if the person has any felony  conviction within the last ten years, any drug felony conviction or certain assault convictions ever.

In this case, the defendants argued that they could still act as caregivers despite the felony convictions because the SOS never revoked their caregiver licenses.

The Court Process

Once in Court again the defendants cases proceeded along the same lines. The defendants both filed motions to dismiss the charges. The defendants argued under Section 4 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act that they were licensed caregivers who possessed an amount of marijuana under the legal limit.

Here was the argument: The defendants at all times had valid caregiver cards issued by the Michigan Secretary of State. The defendants argued it was the SOS’s job to revoke their cards. The SOS had never revoked their cards, therefore the caregiver cards were valid and the defendants were still immune from prosecution based on the MMMA.

The trial court agreed that it was the Secretary of State’s job to revoke the caregiver cards. In the absence of the revocation, the cards were still valid. The charges were dismissed. The prosecution appealed the trial court’s decision.

The Court of Appeals

First, the Court noted that each defendant had too much marijuana in their possession to retain immunity for any manufacturing charge. The case probably could have ended there, but the Court went on to evaluate the card revocation argument.

Second, the felony drug convictions the defendants received in their first cases made them ineligible to be a caregiver under the MMMA.

The trial court analogized the situation to one in which the Secretary of State revokes a driver’s license for multiple OWI convictions. While driving with a revoked driver’s license is a crime, the Court believed this was a poor analogy. There is no similar process for the revocation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana caregiver cards when a person becomes ineligible to be a caregiver.

The Court went on to say, “But there is no similar scheme within the statutes criminalizing marijuana and the MMMA. Rather, the manufacture and delivery of marijuana remains a crime in this state. A person may be immune from prosecution by complying with the MMMA’s Section 4, but the revocation of a MMMA caregiver card has no bearing on the criminality of delivery and manufacture of marijuana.”

And then the Court once more reminded the readers of the opinion that the defendants had too much marijuana to fully qualify for Section 4 immunity anyways.

In The End

Based on this ruling, a felony conviction will make a person immediately ineligible to be a caregiver under the MMMA. The Secretary of State is not required to take any action toward revocation under the law. The failure by the SOS to revoke a caregiver status is not a defense.

Call us

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a Medical Marijuana Attorney in Ann Arbor.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

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