Friday, September 11, 2009
Michigan Medical Marijuana Defense Not Heard in Court
Judge: Pot law doesn't apply in Livingston County case
By Lisa Roose-Church
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
September 11, 2009
A judge denied a defense attorney's request Thursday to dismiss
marijuana charges lodged against his client, who claims he needs the
illegal drug for medicinal purposes.
Livingston County District Judge L. Suzanne Geddis said defendant
Michael Francis Collins could not retroactively apply the state's
medical marijuana law, and she denied his request to dismiss a charge of
possession of marijuana lodged against the 52-year-old man.
Collins' attorney, L. Bert Beurmann, immediately told Geddis that he
will appeal her decision to the county Circuit Court. He declined to
discuss the case after the hearing.
Collins was charged after county sheriff's officials discovered
marijuana in Collins' home on Skyview Court in March. The find came
after the officers went to the home to arrest a relative of Collins' who
was wanted on an outstanding warrant.
Beurmann argued Collins could not be charged because the state
Department of Community Health issued his client a registration card
April 21 under the state's Medical Marijuana Act that says he can use
marijuana to treat his Hepatitis C. He wanted an evidentiary hearing to
prove his client's claim.
Section 8 of the law grants an affirmative defense and dismissal of
criminal charges to patients under the act.
Michigan's medical marijuana law went into effect in December, but
prosecutors argue it did not take full effect until the following April
when rules for the state identification cards needed to verify a person
was using marijuana for medicinal purposes were available.
As a result, Assistant Prosecutor Angela Del Vero said the state law
could not be applied retroactively and that Collins was not entitled
under the law to the hearing he sought.
To support her argument, Del Vero pointed to the case of Ryan Andrew
Burke, a Hartland Township man charged with possession of marijuana with
intent to deliver, a four-year felony, and a misdemeanor charge of
possession of marijuana after undercover narcotics officers received a
tip Aug. 18, 2008, that he was growing marijuana at his Pine Hill Trail
Burke also is arguing his alleged marijuana is for medicinal purposes.
In Burke's case, Circuit Judge David Reader ruled in April the medical
marijuana law cannot be applied retroactively.
The Michigan Court of Appeals in August declined to hear Burke's appeal
and the case is currently set for a Sept. 18 status conference before
Beurmann said Reader's decision in the Burke case does not apply because
Burke was arrested more than 100 days before the law went into effect,
whereas his client's alleged offense occurred more than three months
after the law went into effect.
Contact Daily Press & Argus reporter Lisa Roose-Church at (517) 552-2846
or at lrchurch@gannett. com.
http://www.livingst ondaily.com/ article/20090911 /NEWS01/90911030 8/Judge++ \
Pot+law+doesn+ t+apply+in+ Livingston+ County+case