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Confusion reigns over medical marijuana law

Marijuana plants
Flickr user A7nubis
Marijuana plants.

The state's medical marijuana law is "inartfully drafted" according to Appellate Court Judge Peter O'Connell. O'Connell was quoted in a Detroit News article saying the law is so confusing that users "who proceed without due caution" could "lose both their property and their liberty."

Voters passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act in 2008 by a wide margin. The voters seemed to be saying if there's a medical need for it, people should be able to use it. But the devil is in the details, so many questions remain on how to enforce and uphold the law.

In an AnnArbor.com, Matt Abel, a Detroit-based attorney, said the state law was "written to pass the vote at election time not written to be clear and workable."

One big sticking point is that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

The Obama Administration has said, essentially, that the federal government will look the other way when it comes to state medical marijuana laws. According to the New York Times, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement,

“It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana, but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal.”


And that's what some law enforcement officials in Michigan say is going on in their communities. Mike Bouchard says his late August raids on marijuana dispensaries in Oakland County were done because the people running the dispensaries were going beyond the spirit of the Michigan law.

Those who were arrested say they were complying with the law.

Now it's up to the courts to sort it all out, and the courts are asking lawmakers to clarify what's legal and what's not.


Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.