Court Denies Entrapment Defense in Marijuana Case


Case: People v. Amsdill, Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Issues:

Dismissal of charges stemming from patient-to-patient marijuana sales; Michigan v. McQueen (McQueen I & II); People v. Johnson; Entrapment by estoppel; People v. Woods; People v. Pierce; Credibility assessments; People v. Martin; The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA)

Summary:

Holding that the trial court clearly erred in ruling that defendant established all the elements of his entrapment by estoppel defense, the court reversed the order dismissing the charges against him arising from patient-to-patient marijuana sales, and remanded. Defendant and his wife own and operate three medical marijuana dispensaries. He was charged with conducting a criminal enterprise and conspiracy to deliver or manufacture marijuana. The court concluded that the evidence did not show that he actually relied on statements by the director of a county drug task force (G). Defendant asserted that G told him in 7/10 “that patient-to-patient sales were legal. But defendant testified that his business was already engaged in patient-to-patient sales before” that date. “Although the conduct subject to the criminal complaint did not begin until” 6/11, his “illegal conduct even before he spoke to” G showed that he did not rely on G’s statement any time thereafter. He “presented no evidence suggesting that he would have discontinued the patient-to-patient sales that were already occurring if” G had not made the alleged statement about the legality of these sales. Thus, defendant “failed to establish the element of actual reliance.” The court added that, even if he actually relied on G’s statement, he did not show “that his ‘reliance was reasonable and in good faith given the identity of the government official, the point of law represented, and the substance of the official’s statements.’” G was not the drug task force director in the county in which these charges arose. Thus, defendant’s reliance on G’s statement “in operating all three dispensaries was not reasonable.” Further, his “alleged reliance was also unreasonable given the point of law represented and his representation of” G’s statement. In light of his “admitted knowledge of the MMMA, which does not authorize marijuana dispensaries or patient-to-patient sales of marijuana, and given his own attorney’s statement in defendant’s presence at a public forum that the law is unclear” as to the “legality of sales to anyone who has a marijuana card, defendant could not have reasonably relied on” G’s alleged statement.

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