On February 11, 2021, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision ordering that a medical marijuana card holder cannot be prohibited from using medical marijuana while on probation for a crime. In People v Thue, the Court determined that because the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, MCL 331.26241 et seq., ("MMMA") prohibits the arrest, prosecution or imposition of a penalty of any kind for a person authorized to use medical marijuana under the MMMA, any condition of probation prohibiting the use of medical marijuana that is otherwise used in accordance with the MMMA is considered a "penalty," and, as a result directly conflicts with the language of the MMMA and is impermissible. In other words, because probation is a privilege, the revocation of probation for the otherwise lawful use of medical marijuana under the MMMA is considered a penalty or denial of a privilege. The MMMA expressly protects a card holder from penalty in any manner, denial of any right or privilege, for the lawful use of medical marijuana. "Therefore, a court cannot revoke pronation upon the use of medical marijuana that otherwise complies with the terms of the MMMA." Before this decision, judges across Michigan were allowed, legally, to prohibit the use of medical marihuana for anyone on probation, even if the underlying case had absolutely nothing to do with the use/possession of drugs.
No Changes for Recreationally Marijuana Use on Probation
Importantly, the Michigan Court of Appeals made sure to state in its opinion that a trial court (circuit court or district court) may still impose probation conditions related to the recreational use of marijuana and may also revoke probation for recreational use.
Michigan Medical Marijuana Act Compliance is Required
Just because you are a medical marijuana card holder in Michigan does not mean that you are automatically allowed to use medical marijuana on probation. You must first ensure that your use of medical marijuana is completely compliant with all requirements of the MMMA. Failure to do so could result in a violation of probation charge, court costs, jail time, among other possible sanctions. The Michigan Court of Appeals in Thue made sure to emphasize that compliance with the MMMA is a prerequisite to the lawful use of medical marijuana on probation. A trial court may still revoke your probation if your use of medical marijuana on probation is not compliant with the MMMA. Given the recent changes in the law, judges may be quick to scrutinize a probationer's compliance with the MMMA if any issues regarding the use of marijuana on probation arise.
If you are a medical marijuana patient currently on probation, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can identify if your use of marijuana is MMMA compliant and help develop a plan to ensure that your use of medical marijuana while on probation is lawful.