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The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act Does Not Permit Collective Growing Operations

December 14, 2012 Criminal Law and Procedure

The Michigan Supreme Court in People v. Bylsma ruled that collective marijuana growing operations are not permitted under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. Section 4 of the MMMA will not provide immunity for prosecution for caregivers and patients who grow in a collective setting.

Defendant Bylsma was the registered primary caregiver of medical marijuana for two qualifying patients. Bylsma owned a warehouse in Grand Rapids where he grew marijuana for his two patients and assisted other caregivers and patients in the cultivation of their marijuana. The warehouse itself was an enclosed, locked facility, but inside the warehouse Bylsma had access to all of the plants being grown.

A city inspector found the marijuana and notified the police of its presence. The police executed a search warrant in which they seized over 80 plants, 24 of which Bylsma claimed ownership.

Bylsma was charged with the manufacture of marijuana, and he moved to dismiss the charges under MMMA’s grant of immunity under Section 4 of the Act.

Section 4 of the MMMA grants immunity from criminal prosecution and civil penalties to patients and caregivers who possess a registry card issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health, do not possess over the permitted amount of marijuana, and keeps  marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility. Individuals meeting these requirements are presumed to be engaged in the medical use of marijuana and are entitled to the broad immunity provided by the Act.

Bylsma argued that a collective operation, where multiple caregivers and patients have access to an enclosed, locked facility containing marijuana plants should be permitted, so long as only the registered caregivers and patients who own the plants have access to the growing operation.

The Court rejected this argument, stating that the strict letter of the law permits a caregiver or patient access to only the specified amount, and no more. Bylsma could only claim the Section 4 immunity for his 24 plants.

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