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Michigan v. Hartwick

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Michigan has provided an affirmative defense, under Section 8, and immunity to prosecution, under Section 4, for possessing marijuana.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A patient must present prima facie evidence of their use of marijuana regardless of whether he or she possesses a registry identification card.

    Facts.

    Under Michigan law, if an individual uses medical marijuana, in accordance with the statute, they are granted either immunity from or an affirmative defense to marijuana violations.

    Issue.

    Whether a registry identification card qualifies a patient for the medical use of marijuana, that the user was participating in the protected use of marijuana, and that the user’s use was for a medical purpose.

    Held.

    No, the registry identification only qualifies a patient from the medical use of marijuana, but does not indicate whether the user was engaging in the protected use of marijuana or that the use was for a medical purpose.

    Discussion.

    Section 4 Immunity grants alleged offender immunity for his or her illegal conduct, regardless of the amount proof of criminality. However, if one is not a registered qualifying patient, as required under Section 4, the alleged offender is required to seek relief by asserting an affirmative defense under Section 8. The trial court must make the factual determination of whether the alleged offender is a registered qualifying patient. Moreover, under Section 4, the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove the defendant “(1) was issued an possessed a valid registry card; (2) complied with the requisite volume limitations of §4 (a) and § 4(b); (3) stored any marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility; (4) was engaged in the medical use of marijuana.†The trial court must make the factual findings as a matter of law. There is a rebuttable presumption, when the qualifying patient is a primary caregiver, which established the first two elements of the immunity. However, this presumption may be rebutted. Furthermore, under Section 8, the elements are more onerous than the Section 4 elements. Additionally, any defendant may assert a Section 8 defense, regardless if they are registered. The elements of Section 8 are: “(1) [t]he existence of a bona fide physician-patient relationship, (2) in which the physician completes a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical history, and (3) from which results the physician’s professional opinion that the patient has a debilitating medical condition and will likely benefit from the medical use of marijuana to treat the debilitating medical condition.†The written certification requirement can be satisfied with a registry identification card. However, the registry identification card does not satisfy the first and second element. Also, compared to Section 4, Section 8 does not have a specific quantity limitation. Overall, Section 4 and Section 8 provide different avenues of protection for different defendants. However, the registry identification card is not sufficient alone to assert a Section 8 protection because it does not meet all the requisite elements.



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