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CRIMINAL LAW 6: Use of medical marijuana while on probation.

Defendant appeals an order of probation to allow him to use medical marijuana while on probation.

Defendant pleaded no contest to operating while intoxicated (OWI), third offense.  The trial court sentenced defendant to three years’ probation, with 60 days to be served in jail and one year of SCRAM tether. Among the conditions of defendant’s probation were that he not use or possess any controlled substance without a prescription, that he submit to drug testing as directed by his probation officer, that he participate in an outpatient or residential substance abuse treatment program, and that he not violate any criminal law of any unit of government.

The MMMA authorizes the medical use of marihuana to the extent that it is carried out in accordance with its provisions. In arguing that the trial court’s prohibition of his medical use of marijuana while on probation violates the MMMA, defendant relies on MCL 333.26424(a), which provides: A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, . . . for the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act.

Defendant seeks to argue the trial court’s decision as an issue involving the interplay between federal law and Michigan law. However, conflict preemption is not an issue here. In this case, the trial court did not deny defendant’s request to use marijuana because the use would be a violation of federal law, and thereby a violation of probation, contrary to MCL 771.3(1)(a). Rather, the trial court analyzed the circumstances of defendant’s specific case and concluded that defendant was not an appropriate candidate to use marijuana while on probation.

Defendant does not address the reasoning underlying the trial court’s decision, and also fails to recognize that a trial court has considerable discretion to set conditions of probation.

The information available to the trial court provided ample support for finding that a prohibition on defendant’s marijuana use, although not criminal for purposes of the MMMA, had a logical relationship to the crimes of which defendant was convicted and was reasonably related to deterring his future drug abuse and criminality.

In sum, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s request to use medical marijuana while on probation. The trial court considered the need to provide defendant with pain treatment, but it also took into consideration additional factors, such as defendant’s history of substance abuse, the need to deter additional criminality, and the need to protect the public from further crimes by defendant.

At the Plymouth and Ann Arbor law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, we help defend clients from criminal charges throughout southeast Michigan. Operating while impaired charges are very serious and, if you are charged, you may be subject to severe penalties. For too long, Michigan medical marijuana laws have been mired in gray areas. Staying current on law is essential as the legal landscape changes and Aldrich Legal Services is committed to helping our clients navigate the law.

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