Conflicting Signals Being Sent by Governor?

    icon May 13, 2016
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A district court judge in Otsego County ruled that the Michigan State Police cannot detain a MMMA patient during a traffic stop to “verify” the patient has the lawful amount of medical marijuana. 

Criminal defense attorney Todd Nye challenged a traffic stop and arrest by the Michigan State Police “Home Town Security Team.”  The “Team” is funded by a $6.5 million grant, which has resulted in about 2500 marijuana arrests in the last 7 years on a 30-mile stretch of I-75 between Houghton Lake and Gaylord, MI.

Attorney Nye’s client was pulled over for speeding.  The trooper immediately asked the driver if he was a MMMA patient, and the driver admitted that he was.  The trooper then asked if there was medical marijuana in the vehicle.  The driver stated that he had a lawful amount, locked in a box, in the trunk. 

The trooper then demanded the driver show him the marijuana to “verify” that the weight was lawful.  While the trooper was trying to coerce the driver to allow a search, the trooper decided he found evidence for an unrelated crime, and arrested the passenger.

Nye filed a motion to suppress the arrest, because the trooper violated the Fourth Amendment by detaining the driver to conduct an illegal search. 

Since the driver had a valid MMMA card, and stated he had a lawful amount, the trooper could not detain him to “verify” the amount, unless the trooper had evidence of an unlawful amount.

The prosecutor disagreed, and argued that the MSP had a right to “verify” the amount of medical marijuana in the vehicle.

The judge rejected the reasoning of the prosecutor and MSP, and held that the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.   The judge held that the Fourth Amendment requires that the officer have “an articulable suspicion that a crime is being committed” before he or she can prolong the traffic stop for reasons unrelated to the original stop. 

Since the lawful patient said he had a lawful amount properly secured, the trooper had no evidence of a crime, and therefore could not detain the driver and prolong the traffic stop to conduct a search.

This is a critical ruling for the Michigan medical marijuana community.  The Michigan State Police have aggressively targeted medical marijuana patients and charged thousands of medical marijuana patients with crimes using hyper-aggressive methods of searches and seizures during traffic stops.

You can read the judge’s excellent reasoning and opinion here.

And then there's this document from the Governor. Directive #20 states:

Criminal Investigations. The Governor amended language to change metrics of achieving a case clearance rate from 60 to 62%, removed a section requiring the Department to provide four training opportunities to local law enforcement to increase their knowledge of gambling laws, trends and legal issues and added a new section requiring an increase in the number of opioid-related investigations by 25% above that conducted in FY 2014-15 by multi-jurisdictional task forces and hometown security teams and to work to enhance data analysis capabilities and the linkings of various investigative efforts. (Sec. 602)



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