Medical Marijuana Edibles not ‘Usable’ Marijuana According to Ruling of Michigan Appeals Court

In a ruling issued two weeks ago, the conviction of a medical marijuana patient was vacated by the Michigan Court of Appeals. The appeals court found that an “edible” (brownies) containing THC extract from marijuana resin is not, under the MMMA (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act), usable marihuana. The court vacated the patient’s conviction in the case of Earl Cantrell Carruthers, who was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver following a traffic stop in January of 2011.

Carruthers appealed his conviction, filing a motion to dismiss the possession charge based on several factors. Carruthers argued that being charged with an offense was improper due to the fact that he had a medical marijuana card for himself at the time of the stop. He also claimed to have in his possession a caregiver certificate, and applications for four patients. Carruthers also argued that only the net weight of the THC extract in the brownies should be considered rather then the gross weight of the food. The defendant claimed that if only the active ingredient was weighed, the limit set forth in section 4 of the MMMA, MCL 333.26424 would have prevented prosecutors from filing charges against him.

The defendant’s attorney motioned for the charges against his client be dismissed, however the trial court denied this motion. The trial court found that the total weight of the brownies would be considered a marijuana mixture; it also ruled that Carruthers could not use the medical marijuana defense.

Ultimately, the appeals court determined that the evidence presented to the panel indicated that the brownies did not consist of a mixture or preparation of dried flowers and leaves of the marihuana plant, but rather an extract. Therefore, as defined under the MMMA, the brownies could not be considered usable marihuana, and whether Carruthers possessed more than 12.5 ounces of usable marijuana upon the traffic stop should not have been determined by including the weight of the brownies in the measure of the amount of marijuana in his possession.

Mr. Carruthers will now go back to the Oakland Circuit Court for further proceedings consistent with the Court of Appeals opinion.

Michigan criminal appeals attorneys know that the process of appealing a conviction or sentence is often highly complex. However, individuals who feel the criminal justice system has failed them do have the right to appeal, although it does not necessarily mean the COA will overturn a conviction or send a case back to court for resentencing.

When you consider appealing, it is critical that you have a capable Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who is experienced and knowledgeable in appellate matters; not all criminal defense attorneys are effective in this area of the law.

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