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Michigan Supreme Court Rules Against Zero Tolerance Marijuana Driving Policy

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marijuana dui duii michigan supreme court zero toleranceOpinion in Koon case overrules Court of Appeals; “Michigan Vehicle Code’s zero-tolerance provision… is inconsistent with the MMMA (and) does not apply to the medical use of marijuana.”

LANSING- Michigan’s Supreme Court has overturned a Court of Appeals decision in the case of People v Koon and provided protections for medical marijuana patients who are driving with marijuana in their bloodstream.

In a unanimous opinion, and without oral argument, the Justices held that the previous Court of Appeals decision in Koon that supported zero tolerance was incorrect and violated the MMMA. The Justices determined that having trace elements of marijuana in your system is allowed for licensed medical marijuana patients; patients can not be charged with a crime unless they are demonstrated to be ”under the influence of marijuana”.

That phrase remains undefined and the Opinion calls upon the Legislature to take action to define the impaired threshold, perhaps by adopting a blood content limitation similar to Michigan’s .08 Blood Alcohol Content drunk driving threshold.

The decision by the Supreme Court supports two lower court decisions. Judges Thomas Phillips of the 86th District and Philip Rogers, JR. of Grand Traverse Circuit Court had both previously ruled in favor of the defendant. The Court of Appeals reversed the two lower courts and supported zero-tolerance. The Supreme Court was asked to allow the defense to appeal; they struck down the incorrect ruling instead, without formal hearings, without oral arguments and without even granting the defense’s appeal.

The Opinion also bolsters the MMMA’s supremacy clause. According to the language of the 2008 voter directed initiative, the MMMA is supreme to all other laws that are inconsistent with it. In this instance the Supreme Court determined the MMMA overruled the Michigan Vehicle Code, to the extent that the MMMA itself was not violated by the driver. This ruling should protect medical marijuana patients from the effects of pending legislation to force welfare recipients to test for drug use, and may have other far-reaching implications.

From the Opinion:

This case requires us to decide whether the MMMA’s protection supersedes the Michigan Vehicle Code’s prohibition and allows a registered patient to drive when he or she has indications of marijuana in his or her system but is not otherwise under the influence of marijuana. We conclude that it does…

While we need not set exact parameters of when a person is “under the influence” we conclude that it contemplates something more than having any amount of marijuana in one’s system and requires some effect on the person…

As the Legislature contemplates amendments to the MMMA, and to the extent it wishes to clarify the specific circumstances under which a registered patient is per se ”under the influence” of marijuana, it might consider adopting a “legal limit,” like that applicable to alcohol, establishing when a registered patient is outside the MMMA’s protection.

Read the Court’s Opinion here:

Supreme Court opinion in Koon

See also:

Michigan has a full plate of activities in mid-May:

www.thecompassionchronicles.com/2013/05/21/michigans-next-48-hours-an-update-on-activities/

After more than 1,500 days the medical marijuana case of Bob Redden and Torey Clark has ended in victory for the defendants!

www.thecompassionchronicles.com/2013/05/17/after-1500-days-redden-case-is-finally-resolved/

Read an interview with Dan Linn of Illinois NORML:

www.thecompassionchronicles.com/2013/05/18/dialoguing-with-dan-linn-springfield-springtime-part-2/

Source: The Compassion Chronicles

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"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer." Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.

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