Daniel Hartman on the Do’s and Don’t of Medical Marijuana
This is a question I am often asked and the answer is complex. Like a person who suffers a traumatic event many people are shocked and often are in complete disbelief that they have been arrested and charged with a crime when they are not a criminal and they were acting within their rights. However, when I examine the case it is often a combination of the individual police officer not liking the ‘medical’ defense combined with a simple avoidable mistake in rules and procedures by the cardholder that started the process. Many times an arrest is triggered by ignorance of the law by the cardholder and even more common some bad advice provided by someone not qualified to provide legal advice.
In response to a request by Dr. Robert Townsend, DO, I have compiled a short list of the DO’s and DON’T’s that will aid you in the safe use of medical marihuana. Most people never have a problem with the police while using medical marihuana, this letter is not designed to scare you from the use of marihuana as medicine but to urge you to observe precautions to limit your exposure of wrongful arrest and conviction.
- DO make sure your card(s) are valid, unexpired and on your person. Telling the officer that the card exists will not protect you from arrest. When possible carry a photocopy of the front side of the cards to provide a police officer for his paperwork and to decrease the chance they seize your card or view the information on the back side of a caregiver’s card which will identify a patient to the police.
- DO be polite and cooperative. DO NOT lie to the police as it is a crime but remember that a police officer is permitted to lie to you during a conversation/interview and it will not invalidate the consent or result in a dismissal of the charges. On a weekly basis, I have clients who read a police report and insist the statements the report claims they made were not made and that the statements are out of context. Please note that police do not need to read you your rights or record your actual statements as stated.
- DO politely exercise your right to remain silent.
- DO NOT exercise your right to posses a firearm at the same time as you are involved with medical marihuana. This is due to a conflict of laws which will drastically increase your risk of losing the firearm and/or face criminal prosecution.
- DO NOT operate a vehicle while under the effects of marihuana or for six hours after use. Currently there is no level of THC that can be used to determine impairment and the current holdings by courts is that the police have to establish it effected your ability to drive. The active THC usually stays in a testable amount in your blood for 4-6 hours. The presence of THC in your blood combined with embellishment by the officer can easily be the basis for a conviction.
- DO NOT transport medicine that is accessible to the driver or passenger of a vehicle. DO Lock marihuana in a trunk or a locked box if your vehicle lacks a trunk. DO NOT ever smoke marihuana in a vehicle as the odor will linger for a long, long time alerting police officers and others to search you/or your car.
- DO NOT consent to a search of your person, car or property even when you think you have nothing to hide. Require the officer to justify the search in court either before or after choosing to search.
- DO NOT wait to seek help. If the police search you and seize any item, do not wait until you are arrested and charged to seek help.
About the Expert
My name is Daniel Hartman and I am an aggressive criminal defense attorney with a regional practice. Many lawyers, judges, and police are confused about the Michigan Medical Marihuana law. I have been involved in hundreds of cases in numerous counties and have had many dismissals and acquittals. Each case has its own twists and turns that varies and the outcome can be significantly affected by the proper legal advice.
In conjunction, with Denali Healthcare, my office will provide you with a free telephone consultation about your individual concerns before of after you are involved with law enforcement. For information on firearms and marijuana possession read my post on Guns and Marijuana.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.
Law Office of Daniel Hartman
PO Box 307 Petoskey, MI 49770