Medical marijuana may go up in smoke, or at least that's what Linden City Attorney Charles Mckone is predicting.
McKone recently recommended the Linden City Council not pursue an ordinance on dispensaries for medical marijuana. He believes the law may soon be overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court. "I recommend that the police continue as they have, arresting anyone possessing or smoking marijuana," he said. The city currently has a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Linden police officers currently arrest anyone with the possession of marijuana, regardless if they have a medical marijuana card. Mckone said that it is up to a judge to decide if a medical marijuana patient is legally clear to possess marijuana.
The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act was passed by 62 percent of voters in 2008. Since the passing of the law however, state officials and authorities have had difficulty defining and enforcing the law.
Another blow came to medical marijuana patient when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) alerted firearm dealers and police that guns and ammunition cannot be sold to registered users of marijuana. Under federal law, guns are illegal to users of "marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance."
The city of Fenton also has a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. Fenton Police Chief Rick Aro said Fenton police do not have a sweeping policy with medical marijuana. Each scenario is taken by a case-to-case basis. "Arrests for marijuana depend upon how much marijuana a person has and if it's in a public setting," he said. "There are a lot of factors involved."
According to Aro, Fenton police have encountered a few residents who have their medical marijuana card but overall, arrests for marijuana have not increased.
Linden City Councilor Danielle Dixon asked about the potential liability to the city of Linden if Linden police arrest a legal medical marijuana user.
Mckone said, to date, municipalities have not had to face liability issues for arrests. Those arrested are given a ticket of appearance to court, where counties decide enforcement and not local municipalities.
"If we just believed every card we saw, we wouldn't arrest anyone," McKone said. "Our position is to tell the courts what happened and it's up to the individual to defend themselves."
Phillips Hildner, a local attorney, said Linden's current method of dealing with medical marijuana users could hypothetically cause the city trouble.
"I would be very reluctant if I was a police officer and arrested someone with a medical marijuana card, or at least until the law is settled," Hildner said. "If there was a card presented, there could very well be a lawsuit for an incorrect arrest." Hildner said that an arrest for medical marijuana would probably result in a civil suit, which would end up using taxpayer money.
The council has not voted on whether to adopt a medical marijuana ordinance.
A ruling on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act by the Michigan Supreme Court is likely in the near future.
Other drug-related deaths in tri-county area
ending the conclusion of the investigation, Switzer’s death could be the fifth known drug overdose in the tri-county area of young people between the ages of 17 and 22 in 2011.
Briona Jawhari, 17, of Fenton Township died of a heroin overdose on Feb. 14. Briona’s friend Erika Schlosser, 19, of Fenton died two days later, on Feb. 16, also from a heroin overdose. On March 5, Adam Harden, 22, of Tyrone Township died from an overdose and on April 3, Curtis Petry, of Grand Blanc died from an overdose.