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Transporting Medical Marijuana Law Can Trip Up Medical Marijuana Users

Transporting Medical Marijuana Law Can Trip Up Medical Marijuana Users

Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law has recently handled a number of cases where medical marijuana users were charged with violating the state of Michigan’s new Improper Transportation of Marijuana Law.  The new law, called “Transporting or Possession of Usable Marihuana” took effect on April 1st of 2013.  This marijuana law  impacts the rights of medical marijuana patients under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) MCL 333.26421.  

MCL 750.474 states:

(1) A person shall not transport or possess usable marihuana as defined in section 26423 of the public health code, MCL 333.26423, in or upon a motor vehicle or any self-propelled vehicle designed for land travel unless the usable marihuana is 1 or more of the following:

(a)  Enclosed in a case that is carried in the trunk of the vehicle.

(b)  Enclosed in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle, if the vehicle in which the person is traveling does not have a trunk.

(2)  A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

This law as requiring any and all marijuana when transported in motor vehicle must be carried in the trunk of the vehicle or enclosed in a case that is not readily accessible form the interior of the vehicle. If your automobile has a trunk, the marijuana must be placed in the trunk within a closed container. This law applies to you if you are the driver or simply a passenger in the vehicle.  Thus, if you are transporting marijuana in your car, it must be kept in the trunk in a case.  The law does not define whether a baggie would suffice.  Most prosecuting attorney’s offices and law enforcement hold the opinion that this law also applies to medical marijuana possessed by a certified medical marijuana card holder.  Accordingly, they are prosecuting violations of this law even against those who possess a legitimate medical marijuana card and who have otherwise complied with the Medical Marijuana Act.  Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law suggests to err on the side of caution and put the marijuana in a case or box – preferably one that locks. If your vehicle does not have trunk (such as a motor cycle or single cab pick up truck), that is still not an excuse.  You still need to transport the marijuana outside of the passenger compartment of the vehicle enclosed in a case.  For pick up trucks – get a truck box.  If you are riding a motor cycle or moped, get the bike equipped with a locked storage device.  Do not keep you marijuana in the glove box, console, or on your person while driving or riding in an automobile.  

If you are a medical marijuana user who has been charged with this offense, an argument should be made that this new law conflicts with the Medical Marijuana Act at MCL 333.26423(f) and thus does not apply to medical marijuana card holders.  In People v Koon, 494 Mich 1; 832 NW2d 724 (2013), the Michigan Supreme Court affirmed the language of MCL 333.26427(e) by saying “[w]hen the MMMA conflicts with another statute, the MMMA provides that “[a]ll other acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this act do not apply to the medical use of marihuana as provided for by this act.””  Also, MCL 333.26423(f) contains the definition of “medical use”.   Among the list of protected activities in this definition is “possession” and “transportation”.   It is clear that the language of statute MCL 750.474 conflicts with the MMMA.  As a consequence, MCL 750.474 is superseded by the MMMA and does not apply to the medical use of marijuana.

However, a more prudent course of action is to simply take the necessary steps to avoid being charged at all.

If you or someone you know has been charge with illegally transporting marijuana despite possessing a medical marijuana card, please contact the attorneys at Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law, PLLC for a free consultation.  We are hear to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


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