Original Case Details
Back in November of 2018, a man named Thomas Moorman was pulled over for speeding In Alger County in the Upper Peninsula. He was pulled over by State police at a gas station. The state trooper claimed he smelled a strong odor of fresh marijuana coming from the vehicle. He believed that there was a “good quantity” of marijuana in the vehicle due to how strong the smell was. Moorman was asked if he had any marijuana in the vehicle and he said no. The trooper continued to ask about the marijuana smell and Moorman finally admitted that he had harvested some earlier in the day and further told the trooper that he is a medical marijuana caregiver and has five patients assigned under him. The trooper then searched his truck and found he was within the regulated limits of being a caregiver. The trooper then asked him if he had any weapons and Moorman slapped a handgun onto the dash of his truck. He had a license for the pistol from the state of Indiana. Moorman, however, was in violation of his pistol license because he was required to transfer his license to Michigan once he lived here for a year, which at that point he had. The trooper also found prescription pills that Moorman did not have a prescription for. Moorman was charged with illegally carrying a concealed weapon along with possession charges for the prescription pills. Moorman challenged the search stating that the smell of marijuana alone would not allow a search in these circumstances.
The Court Of Appeals Decision
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Moorman did have certain protections under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Law since the trooper didn’t suspect that he was smoking it, just that he was possessing it. The Court then had to answer the main question at hand: “Did the trooper have probable cause to believe an illegal amount was possessed?” The Court found that Moorman’s actions and behavior were deceptive. The Court questioned Moorman’s motive’s in not initially telling the truth about the marijuana in his car if he was a medical marijuana caregiver with a card. The Court said that if someone has a registry card and they misrepresent that they don’t have any marijuana, it is reasonable to believe that they are saying that because they in fact do have more than they legally should. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Circuit Court’s decision in allowing the search and affirming Moorman’s conviction.
Where Does The Law Stand Now?
The Court of Appeals said that if Moorman would have simply acknowledged the smell of marijuana and admitted that he was a caregiver from the beginning, then he would have been protected from arrest. This ruling affirmed the power of a medical marijuana card, but also affirmed the power of a police officer to look at other factors in determining probable cause. Namely the trooper was allowed to use the fact that Moorman was not being truthful and was allowed to investigate further into why he was not being truthful. A medical marijuana card is not a get out of jail free card, if you are suspected to be operating outside of its limits then you can be subjected to criminal charges.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one is being investigated for a marijuana offense or have already been charged with an offense related to a violation of marijuana laws, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.