In People v Green, a recent Michigan Court of Appeals case, the court held that it was not illegal for medical marijuana patients to transfer marijuana to each other, providing the amount transferred was under 2.5 ounces.
The facts of the case were undisputed. On September 7, 2011, defendant gave Al Thornton marijuana. The transfer of marijuana occurred in Nashville, Michigan. On the date of the transfer, defendant possessed a patient registry card, and Thornton had submitted a valid application for a registry identification card more than 20 days before the transfer, thus, under MCL 333.26429(b), his application was the equivalent of a registry identification card. The amount of marijuana transferred was less than the 2.5 ounces that a registered qualifying patient is permitted to possess under § 4(a) of the MMMA. Authorities did not arrest Thornton in connection with his receipt of marijuana from defendant; however, defendant was arrested after authorities learned that he gave Thornton marijuana.
As explained in People v Nicholson, 297 Mich App 191, 198; 822 NW2d 284 (2012), “a defendant is immune from arrest, prosecution, or penalty pursuant to § 4(a) if he or she (1) is a qualifying patient; (2) who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card; and (3) possesses less than 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.” Additionally, medical use in accordance with the MMMA is required for § 4(a) immunity to apply. Id.; MCL 333.26424(a).
In this case, it was not disputed that defendant was a qualifying patient who was issued and possessed a registry identification card. Also not disputed is the fact that the amount of marijuana involved was less than the 2.5 ounces permitted by the MMMA, and that defendant received no compensation. Therefore, the only issue was whether the medical use requirement for § 4(a) immunity is satisfied.
“Medical use” is defined by the MMMA to mean “the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, internal possession, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marihuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marihuana to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the debilitating medical condition.” MCL 333.26423(e).
The court concluded that while the “sale” of marijuana was not permitted under the MMMA, simply “transferring” or “giving” the marijuana to another patient was protected conduct.
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