Three twenty-year veteran corrections officers are at the center of a criminal case involving no sex, no violence and no drugs- only marijuana butter. The technicalities of Michigan's medical marijuana laws will be tested in a case that should bring into focus how those laws have been shaped by unusually restrictive court decisions.
A husband and wife caregiver team, the Scherzers, supply their patients with cannabutter- butter that's been infused with marijuana and strained before cooling. Between the two caregivers they have three patients that are corrections officers with the Kent County Sheriff Department, and another patient that is the wife of a deputy. All patients are state-certified for medical marijuana use.
The Scherzers typically give the cannabutter to one officer, who then distributes it to the others. The officers involved all have more than twenty years of experience on the job. An unrelated investigation involving the Scherzers brought to light the medical marijuana status of the officers; immediately the Sheriff Department launched an internal investigation.
After an exhaustive investigation, including interviews of a dozen employees and the drug testing four of them, the Sheriff Department concluded that there were no other people in the department involved with the distribution ring.
When looked at as a whole, this seems a very positive arrangement. It is a closed loop: none of the butter was transferred to a person not directly related to a patient, and the blood tests from other suspects confirms it. The officers used cannabutter instead of smoking, presumably to avoid intoxication while reaping cannabis' medicinal benefits. All patients using the cannabis were registered with the state. Marijuana plants were all grown in accordance with law at a single location and there is no evidence that anyone was ever given improper access to the garden. The non-patient officer was involved solely to the extent that he assisted his sick wife in obtaining the medicine she needed by picking it up and delivering it home, otherwise known as assisting in the medical use of marijuana- a protected action under the MMA.
Sounds like much ado about nothing- except for the court rulings that have twisted the intent of the MMA.
Cannabutter is not allowed in Michigan- not for use, not to be transferred, not allowed, per the Carruthers case. The foodstuffs that were used as medical treatment for years in Michigan by patients are no longer covered by the MMA's protections. The non-intoxicating substances like creams, oils, salves and pill forms of cannabis were all outlawed, too. The Court of Appeals left Michigan's patients with little alternative to smoking or vaporizing their medical marijuana.
A non-patient can assist in the medical use of marijuana, according to the MMA, but that has been thrown out by the courts, too. Nobody can water the plants in a garden while the caregiver is away- the courts decided that one and only one person is allowed access to the plants. Even the patient for whom the plants are being grown cannot enter the garden, per court decisions. The simple act of a husband delivering medicine to his sick wife- that's illegal, too.
Three of the four officers are charged with manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance, three are charged with possession of marijuana, one is charged with maintaining a drug house and another has a conspiracy charge.
By charging officers with operating a drug house and filing conspiracy charges the local prosecutor has shown no compassion for the ill and the injured. In truth, they would have been better protected if the officers had just smoked the cannabis instead of going through the extra steps of making the butter and creating the foods, which ultimately led to the charges of possession of a controlled substance.
In Michigan the ability of the people to place an issue directly before the voters is a part of our Constitution. When the people have spoken it is the responsibility of the courts and the legislature to enact laws that fully realize the vision of the populace. This case illustrates how far from the expressed will of the people the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act has fallen.