Medical Marijuana User’s Spouse Charged with Marijuana-Related Offenses; State Supreme Court Rules in Her Favor

ClkerFreeVectorImages [Public domain, CC0 1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via PixabayAs more states allow the purchase, sale, possession, and use of marijuana for medical purposes, law enforcement officials must balance patients’ rights with the enforcement of the remaining marijuana laws. In situations in which medical marijuana patients reside with people who do not have valid prescriptions, they must carefully assess whether a person is violating the law or not. Unfortunately, law enforcement does not always make a correct assessment, as in the case of a Michigan woman whose husband was a registered patient under state law. Prosecutors charged her with drug paraphernalia-related offenses, and she appealed the case to the state supreme court, which reversed the trial court’s and appellate court’s judgments against her. Michigan v. Mazur (“Mazur I”), No. 149290, slip op. (Mich., Jun. 11, 2015); see also Michigan v. Mazur (“Mazur II”), No. 317447, slip op. (Mich. App., Apr. 1, 2014).

Under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), Mich. Comp. L. § 333.26421 et seq., registered marijuana patients may possess limited amounts of marijuana for use in accordance with a doctor’s prescription. Section 4 of the statute permits possession of up to 2.5 ounces of “usable marihuana” and, in some circumstances, up to 12 plants “kept in an enclosed, locked facility.” Mich. Comp. L. § 333.26424(a).

The MMMA grants immunity from prosecution to individuals associated with a registered patient for certain acts or situations. Providing “marihuana paraphernalia for purposes of a qualifying patient’s medical use of marihuana,” for example, is not subject to prosecution under § 4(g). Id. at § 333.26424(g). Similarly, § 4(i) protects a person from prosecution if they were “solely…in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act.” Id. at § 333.26424(i).

The Texas Legislature passed the “Texas Compassionate-Use Act,” SB 339, in 2015. The bill only allows the use of “low-THC cannabis” in the treatment of intractable epilepsy. Tex. Occ. Code §§ 169.001(2), (3). It states that certain people may not be subject to prosecution for delivery or possession of low-THC cannabis, or for delivery or possession of drug paraphernalia, if they are a patient with a doctor’s prescription, a patient’s legal guardian, or an employee or manager of a licensed “dispensing organization.” Tex. Health & Safety Code § 481.111(e); see also Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 481.120, 481.121, 481.122, 481.125. Unlike the MMMA, Texas law does not expressly mention other people who might reside with a patient.

Prosecutors charged the defendant in Mazur with various marijuana-related offenses, reportedly based on “sticky notes” she had written for her husband, a registered patient, with harvest dates for marijuana plants. Mazur I at 2. She claimed immunity under §§ 4(g) and (i) of the MMMA, arguing that the notes were “paraphernalia” protected by the law. Mazur II at 3.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s denial of her motion to dismiss, finding that “the notes were not paraphernalia” under the meaning of § 4(g), id., and that she was not entitled to immunity under § 4(i) because she “failed to show that the growing operation was in accordance with the MMMA.” Id. at 4. The Michigan Supreme Court affirmed the ruling that she was not entitled to immunity under § 4(i), but it reversed the lower court’s ruling regarding § 4(g) and the definition of “paraphernalia.”

These blog posts are meant to be illustrative only. Unless expressly stated to the contrary herein, these matters are not the result of any legal work of Michael J. Brown, but are used to communicate a particular point of view. Michael J. Brown does not claim credit for any legal work done by any lawyer or law firm either generally or specifically, with respect to the matters contained in this blog.

Board-certified drug crimes attorney Michael J. Brown advocates for the rights of west Texas defendants in state and federal criminal cases. Contact us today online or at (432) 687-5157 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.

More Blog Posts:

Jury Acquits Medical Marijuana User of Felony Possession Charges, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, October 30, 2015

Texas Becomes (Very Slightly) More Accepting of Marijuana, While the White House Commutes Sentences of Nearly Fifty Non-Violent Drug Offenders, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, October 30, 2015

Legal Status of Marijuana Under Review by Texas Legislature, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, April 10, 2015

Photo credit: ClkerFreeVectorImages [Public domain, CC0 1.0], via Pixabay.