Media Puts Face on Medical Marijuana Patients

donna-lambertOne of the biggest media stories of the past week in Metro Detroit was the raid of a medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale which resulted in the arrests of 15 individuals, including the owners of the establishment. Many of those arrested, including ownership, were medical marijuana patients licensed by the state of Michigan whose medication was seized and who are now precluded from using what (for them) should be legal according to the law.

One of our clients, Michael Komorn, is a criminal defense attorney who also sits on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA). Since the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was put into effect nearly a year ago, he has represented numerous patients and caregivers (those who are licensed to grow a specified number of plants for a specific number of people). Over and over again, he says, due largely to the murkiness of the way the law was written, scores of individuals are being arrested, raided and legally threatened. Typically, no charges are ever brought; still, plants are destroyed and individuals in need go without their medication.

If one were looking for a ‘silver lining’ in this week’s developments, one only had to watch a bit of the televised arraignment proceedings or look over the “mug shots’ of the 15 arrested individuals. Suddenly, there is a “face” on the medical marijuana movement and, no doubt to the surprise of many, it is not, to borrow Oakland County Sheriff Bouchard’s quote, “…some Cheech and Chong Movie.” Rather, the ages, genders and demographics could be any one of us. One individual, a woman in her 50s, is a former police dispatcher.

If you google the topic and dig, you’ll see that this is serious business. A family in Saginaw whose 7-year old daughter (battling brain cancer), loses access to her medication after her caregiver is raided. A single mother (and licensed patient) living in Jackson threatened by her landlord with eviction for smoking in the privacy of her apartment. Unfortunately, these individuals are often overshadowed by those that would take advantage of the law for personal gain.

Sometimes from adversity comes enlightenment and understanding. With a face of medical marijuana emerging, it is hoped by many that a dialogue and conversation between law enforcement and the patient/caregiver community will soon begin as it has with municipalities such as Bloomfield Township. Education is a good thing—in particular where truly sick individuals are concerned.