After testimony from a Southfield clinic doctor who recommends medical marijuana, a judge in the 43rd District Court in Madison Heights has dismissed felony manufacturing charges against a Madison Heights couple, who were growing plants they thought were legal under the state’s medical marijuana law.
At issue was whether Robert Redden, 59, and Torey Clark, 47, could use a letter from their doctor as authorization to grow a legal number of plants in the absence of the state-sponsored ID program.
The couple and their attorneys Matthew Able and Bob Mullen argued that the letter, which the couple received March 3, was sufficient, whereas Madison Heights police and the Oakland County prosecutor’s office said it was not.
Judge Robert J. Turner reluctantly dismissed the charges, calling the voter initiated legislation “the worst piece of legislation I’ve ever seen.”
In March, police seized 21 plants from the couple. Redden and Clark were among the almost 2,000 people who applied to use and grow medical marijuana in Michigan. They were also among the roughly half who fell into a legal black hole where they had letters from doctors recommending the use of marijuana, but not the state-issued cards that make it legal.
The law went into effect in 2008 after the ballot calling for it passed in the November elections. However, some people who have cards now face legal questions because the state took months to launch its ID program after the law went into effect. Redden and Clark did not have an ID card because of the delay.
"There hasn't been quite the degree of confusion as in the Michigan program, " said Dan Bernath, a spokesman for the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, about the other states the group has guided in starting medical marijuana programs.
Medical marijuana advocates maintained a doctor's letter is sufficient to prevent prosecution for small amounts of marijuana, but state health officials disagreed saying that the applicants had to wait until the program was established.
The mandated state identification card program went into effect in April.
By MEGHA SATYANARAYANA
June 17, 2009