In June 2019, 39-year-old Michael Thue was involved in a road rage incident, ultimately pleading guilty to assault and battery. Thue, who is a state-registered medical cannabis patient, was given a year of probation as part of his sentence and ordered not to use medical marijuana during the year of probation. He fought the bond condition, lost and took the case to the Court of Appeals, resulting in a historic and precedent-setting ruling by the court.
The Court of Appeal judges unanimously ruled in a 3–0 vote that Michigan judges could not prevent state-registered medical marijuana patients from using medical cannabis during probation. Issued by Court of Appeals Judges Deborah A. Servitto, Mark. J. Kavanaugh and Thomas C. Cameron in writing, the ruling declared that the Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters back in 2008, “preempts or supersedes” contradicting statutes and ordinances that allow judges to limit a variety of legal activities, including alcohol consumption.
Michael Komorm, the Farmington Hills-based defense lawyer who represented Thue in his appeal, said that while arguing the medical cannabis probation condition in a lower court, the opposing lawyer claimed that allowing a probationer to use medical cannabis was akin to letting someone on probation for drunk driving have a drink. However, he counters, there is no medical alcohol law. On the other hand, specific language in Michigan’s medical marijuana law prohibits state-registered patients from being penalized from using medical cannabis, he says.
In spite of this provision in the voter-passed legislation, judges, especially those in Grand Traverse County where Thue’s incident occurred, have been imposing medical cannabis restrictions on state-registered patients on probation. Komorm believes that now that the Court of Appeals has ruled that judges can no longer impose such restrictions, the precedent should apply to other parolees or defendants currently on bond who have been prohibited from using medical marijuana.
According to Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggernberg, the Legislature will need to make a couple of changes for the precedent-setting ruling by the Court of Appeals to apply to individuals who are free on bond or parolees. Although she called the final ruling “problematic,” she revealed that there are currently no plans to appeal as the court’s reasoning is “sound.” Unfortunately for Thue, his probation ended in December, and the ruling won’t affect him.
The court cautioned that recreational use of marijuana, approved by voters in 2018, is not immune from marijuana prohibitions during probation.
Still on the subject of medical marijuana, RYAH Group Inc. has an exciting portfolio of IoT-based products, each of which is composed of a mobile application, a device and a component that carries the cannabis medication. These products bring precision to the administration of cannabis medicines.
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