Operating a Motor Vehicle and the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act

THE PROTECTIONS OF THE MICHIGAN MEDICAL MARIHUANA ACT EXTEND TO A QUALIFYING PATIENT WHO INTERNALLY POSSESS MARIJUANA WHILE OPERATING A VEHICLE UNLESS THE PATIENT IS “UNDER THE INFLUENCE.”


 

 

The Michigan Supreme Court recently reversed a Michigan Court of Appeals decision on a case involving a Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) patient who was convicted of Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance in his body. In People v. Koon, the defendant was stopped for a traffic violation. The defendant informed the officer that he had a medical marihuana patient registry identification card and that he had smoked marihuana five to six hours prior to the stop.

 

The MMMA provides protections to registered qualifying patients who internally possess marihuana, however it does not protect a patient who operates a vehicle while “under the influence” of marihuana. The Michigan Supreme Court concluded that the MMMA’s protection supersedes the Michigan Vehicle Code’s zero-tolerance provision. This allows for a qualified registered client to operate a motor vehicle when he or she has the presence of marihuana in his or her system, but is not otherwise under the influence of marihuana.

 

The Court further concluded that the phrase “under the influence” clearly contemplates something more than having any amount of marihuana in a person’s system and requires some effect on the person. A police officer must be able to articulate facts that support a finding of probable cause that a registered qualifying patient is under the influence of marihuana in order to arrest them for operating a vehicle with any amount f a schedule 1 substance in his or her body.

 

If you have been charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle with the Presence of a Schedule 1 Substance, contact the Michigan Criminal Attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. at (248) 263-6800 or fill out a Request for Information Form and one of the attorneys will contact you.


 






 


Operating Under the Influence of Marijuana (OWID)