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CRIMINAL 8: Charged with aiding and abetting of manufacturing marijuana.

Original Post: 3/27/2018

A doctor holds up a medical marijuana plant that he prescribes to patients. Defendant appeals his conviction, following a jury trial, of manufacturing marijuana.  The trial court sentenced defendant to two days in jail, with credit for two days’ served, and 18 months of probation. When the police executed a search warrant at the residence of H, defendant was observed spraying marijuana plants in a basement grow room. Defendant was standing near H, who was also observed tending to the plants. Defendant was tried under the theory that he aided and abetted H in manufacturing the marijuana.

What is The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act?

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), provides very limited circumstances in which persons involved with the use of marijuana, may avoid criminal liability.   This act provides protections for individuals who use marihuana for its medicinal purposes as prescribed by a medical professional. The law stipulates information on the allowable amount, caregiver privileges, necessary identification, and more. To learn more about medical marihuana and updates on information relating to it, explore the nonprofit Michigan Medical Marihuana Association's website.

Penalties for Aiding and Abetting Unlawful Manufacturing of Marihuana

Accomplices to crimes may be prosecuted under an aiding and abetting theory.  

In order to convict a defendant of the unlawful manufacture of marihuana, the prosecution must prove that

  1. the defendant manufactured a substance,
  2. the substance manufactured was marijuana, and
  3. the defendant knowingly manufactured marijuana.

What Happens When a Defendant Wants to Present Evidence?

To the extent that the defendant wished to present evidence to the jury suggesting that he did not have the requisite intent because he thought H was a registered patient or caregiver under the MMMA, any impression defendant had that H was legally possessing the marijuana based on his medical marijuana registry card was a mistake of law. Put another way, where the parties do not dispute that H did not have a defense and was not immune from prosecution under the MMMA, ignorance of the law or a mistake of law is no defense to criminal prosecution.

The record evidence in this case established that the police executed a search warrant of a marijuana growing operation, for which H was the target. Defendant was previously unknown to the police. There was a sign on a basement door of the home identifying the grow room as H’s. The police concluded that a large amount of marijuana was grown for bulk sale because of the way it was packaged, the large-scale equipment present in the home’s basement, and because of the different phases of growth of the plants. Additionally, the police found grow supplies, such as 55-gallon drums of water, fertilizer, ballasts for lights, a grow schedule, plant food, and 32 smaller marijuana plants in rooms adjacent to the grow room. In a living room area of the basement, the police found two buckets containing a total of 3.2 pounds of loose marijuana, with marijuana wax on a table. The basement grow room had a ventilation system, heated grow lamps, tarps, a fan, orange buckets like those in the living area, and 26 mature marijuana plants. Defendant was observed standing in the grow room, holding a hose and spraying a marijuana plant, with H standing nearby.

The record evidence amply supported the jury’s finding that defendant, actively assisting H in the cultivation of marijuana plants in a grow operation, was engaged in the manufacture of marijuana.

What to Do if You Get Arrested for Possession or Use of Marihuana in Michigan

With the rise of medical marijuana has come a rise in arrests for possession and use of marijuana for those who are not registered patients or caregivers.  At the Plymouth and Ann Arbor law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, we help defend clients from criminal charges throughout southeast Michigan. Fortunately, there are options for keeping a marijuana crime conviction off your record and for fighting a charge.

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