• Michigan Court Of Appeals Holds That Medical Marihuana Patients Are Not Required to Have Registry Cards In Immediate Possession In Order To Avoid Prosecution.
  • August 15, 2012
  • Law Firm: The Nichols Law Firm PLLC - East Lansing Office
  • In People V Nicholson, the defendant, James Nicholson, was charged with possessing marihuana in violation of MCL 333.7403(2)(d).  Mr. Nicholson was arrested after police discovered him in possession of approximately 1 ounce of marihuana.  Mr. Nicholson stated to the police officer that he had been approved as a medical marihuana patient but that he had not yet been issued a registry card.  Mr. Nicholson then stated that he had paperwork which would prove his status as a MMMA patient yet he was unable to provide the officers with the proper paperwork because the paperwork was at his residence.  The Michigan medical marihuana act (MMMA) allows a patient’s paperwork to serve as proof of MMMA approval for those patients who have been approved yet had not been issued registry cards. 

    Mr. Nicholson presented a motion to dismiss the charge based on his status as a medical marihuana patient.  The motion was denied by the district court and Mr. Nicholson appealed the denial to the circuit court where the circuit court held that in order for Mr. Nicholson to use the protections provided by the MMMA he had to have the registry card in his possession at the time of the offense.

    The matter was then brought before the Michigan Court of Appeals where it was determined that a medical marihuana patient need not possess paperwork or a card in order to avoid prosecution.  The decision stated that section 4 of the MMMA provides protection against arrest, prosecution or penalty to those who possess a valid registry card.  In this case, Mr. Nicholson was unable to protect himself from arrest because his registry card was not readily accessible at the time of the alleged offense.  Although Mr. Nicholson was unable to avoid arrest, the court of appeals held that he was able to avoid prosecution because he properly presented the paperwork to the district court at the time of prosecution and was therefore protected by the MMMA.  

    “In Nicholson, the Michigan Court of Appeals interpreted the Michigan medical marihuana act in a logical way and now medical marihuana patients cannot be prosecuted for simply leaving their paperwork or card at home” says Attorney Joshua Covert of the Nichols Law Firm.  Covert adds, “the opinion just makes sense, I don’t see the value in prosecuting someone with a one year misdemeanor simply because they forgot a card or piece of paper.”  

    If you are a medical marihuana patient and have been charged with possession, call the Nichols Law Firm and discuss your case with a lawyer who knows the Michigan medical marihuana act inside and out.  Call Joshua M. Covert at (517) 432-9000 or email him at [email protected].