Written by attorney Ralph John Stephan Jr.

An Overview of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act

Everything you wanted to know about the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act [1], but were too stoned to ask. (Or a brief highlight of the law)

By: R. John Stephan

The list of conditions for which marijuana can be prescribed is actually a limited list. [2] To add anything new to this list, a petition must be filed with the health department. A public hearing will then be scheduled and approval granted or denied within 180 days. [3]

A patient is someone who has been diagnosed by a physician as having one of the medical conditions on the list. [4] However, the standards for a minor to be issued a medical marijuana card are higher. [5] There is recognition of an out of State medical marijuana card, although it is unclear whether there is full reciprocity between States at this time. [6] An application shall be approved or denied within 15 days of the department receiving it [7], and a card issued within 5 days of a the decision. [8] If the department fails to issue a card in response to a valid application within 20 days of its submission, it is deemed granted. [9] The cards expire one year from the date of issuance, but are renewable. [10] The cards must contain not only the patient’s information, such as address and date of birth, but also information for the caregiver. [11]

In order to be a primary care giver, a person must be 21 or older and not have any felony convictions involving drugs. [12] In the case of a minor who is given a prescription, the primary caregiver MUST be the patient’s parent or legal guardian. [13] A primary caregiver may receive compensation for costs. [14] Up to five patients may use the same care giver, however a patient can have no more than one care giver. [15] The caregiver may grow up to 12 plants for each patient who designates the caregiver is to grow the marijuana [16], provided the plants are kept in an enclosed, locked facility. [17]

An employer is not required to make accommodations for the patient to use, nor is a health insurer required to cover any costs associated with use. [18] However; a patient’s possession of a card cannot result in limitations on, denials of, or disciplinary actions regarding licensing in any professional, occupational or business capacity. [19]

A patient is not able to just use marijuana whenever or wherever they choose though. They cannot undertake any task that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice, they may not possess marijuana in a school bus, school grounds, or correctional facilities, and it may not be used on any public transportation or in any public place. [20]

Neither a care giver nor a patient are free from all criminal sanctions either. Any patient or care giver who sells marijuana to someone who is not allowed to use it for medical purposes faces a felony and revocation of their license. [21] Providing false information to a police officer about the use of medical marijuana by anyone, not just a license care giver or patient, subjects that person to a fine of $500. [22]

A final note of interest, a person who is “merely" in the presence of the use of medical marijuana, or assisting a patient with using or administering marijuana may not be subjected to criminal or civil penalties. [23]

[1] This is not a typo. The title of the act does not use the common spelling; “marijuana".

[2] MCL 333.26423(a)(1)-(3) This list includes: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Hep C, sclerosis, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, nail patella, or a chronic or debilitating disease which causes wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

[3] MCL 333.26425(a)

[4] MCL 333.26242(h)

[5] MCL 333.26426(b)(1)-(3) Some brief highlights include: (2) written certification must be obtained from two physicians, and (3)(A)-(C) the patient’s parent must consent in writing to allowing the use of marijuana, being the caregiver, and controlling the acquisition and dosage.

[6] MCL 333.26423(k) and MCL 333.26424(j) The recognition only applies to non-residents, or those who have been a resident for less than 30 days.

[7] MCL 333.26426(c)

[8] MCL 333.26426(e)

[9] MCL 333.26429(b) A copy of the application then serves as the valid registration card.

[10] MCL 333.26426(e)

[11] MCL 333.26426(e)(2)

[12] MCL 333.26423(g)

[13] MCL 333.26426(b)(3)(B)

[14] MCL 333.26424(e) It is specifically stated that this compensation does not constitute the sale of controlled substances.

[15] MCL 333.26424(d)

[16] MCL 333.26426(e)(6) The patient has sole discretion to determine whether the patient will grow the plants, and the caregiver will merely assist in use, or if the caregiver will be responsible for growth of the plants as well.

[17] MCL 333.26424(b)(2) A locked facility is defined in MCL 333.26423(c) as a closet, room, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or other security devices that limit access to the caregiver or patient only.

[18] MCL 333.26427(c) It will be interesting to see how this conforms with the American’s with Disabilities Act.

[19] MCL 333.26424(a)

[20] MCL 333.26427(b)(1)-(3) It should be noted that (4) reiterates the prohibition on operating a vehicle under the influence.

[21] MCL 333.26424(k) there is no indication that knowledge the person does not have a card is required. The punishment is up to 2 years and or a fine of up to $2000, on top of any other penalties for distribution of marijuana.

[22] MCL 333.26427(d) the fine is in addition to any other criminal penalties, such as false information to a police officer or possession or use of marijuana. It is specifically for providing false information relating to the medical use of marijuana. It should be noted this is a set fine of $500, there is no language indicating the amount is discretionary or may be less than $500.

[23] MCL 333.26424(i) This is noted as it may have reaching effects on possession of marijuana charges that are based on constructive possession. Also of interest is the use of the language “A person" rather than a caregiver. This seems to indicate than any person may avoid criminal consequences by assisting a patient.

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