Defendant Allowed to Present Medical Marijuana Defense at Trial


Case: People v. Hensley, Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished Opinion)

Issues:

The Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) (MCL 333.26421 et seq.); People v. Kolanek; The § 8 affirmative defense; MCL 333.26428; People v. Hartwick; People v. Bylsma; Whether material questions of fact existed on the issue of a bona fide physician-patient relationship; MCL 333.26423(a); Written certification defined; MCL 333.26423(q); Debilitating medical condition defined; MCL 333.26423(b); Material question of fact as to whether defendant possessed more marijuana than was reasonably necessary to ensure uninterrupted availability; MCL 333.26428(a)(2); Genuine issue of material fact as to whether the marijuana use was for a medical purpose

Summary:

The court held that while defendant was not entitled to dismissal of the marijuana-related charges as a matter of law, he could present a MMMA § 8 affirmative defense at trial. Thus, it affirmed the trial court’s ruling that material questions of fact existed about “the amount of marijuana and whether it was reasonably necessary to ensure an uninterrupted supply.” It reversed the trial court’s ruling that no bona fide “physician-patient relationship existed and that defendant’s § 8 affirmative defense failed as a matter of law.” It remanded to permit him to present a § 8 affirmative defense at trial. He served as a “caregiver” for his brother (J) and a friend (W). The court concluded that there were material questions of fact as to the existence of a bona fide physician-patient relationship. It found that the trial court “erred by imposing requirements beyond what was required by MCL 333.26423(a). Whether defendant already had a primary care physician is irrelevant under MCL 333.26423(a)” – MCL 333.26423(a)(4) “explicitly contemplates the possibility that a physician other than a patient’s primary care physician may complete a written certification under the MMMA.” There also is “no requirement barring a patient from seeking out a physician for the sole purpose of obtaining a written certification as provided by” the MMMA, and MCL 333.26423(a)(3) “does not require that follow-up care has been provided; rather, it only requires that a physician have a ‘reasonable expectation’ of providing follow-up care to a patient.” Defendant’s home was raided only four months after he, J, and W obtained their certifications from Dr. C. There were genuine issues of material fact as to whether C “had a reasonable expectation that he would provide follow-up care” to them. Further, the “State of Michigan accepted the applications and certifications and issued valid registry identification cards. Because the state was required to independently verify” C’s written certifications, the trial court erred in determining that C’s certifications were defective. However, in addition to the material question of fact as to the amount of marijuana, the court found that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the marijuana use was for a medical purpose.

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