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Appeals Court Ruling Disallows Marijuana Extracts

For the second time in a year, a Michigan court ruling has fundamentally altered the medical marijuana landscape in Michigan. The first time, it was a decision that clarified transfer of marijuana through a dispensary to registered cannabis users – this was found to be illegal under our medical marijuana law and communities can now shut down dispensaries that act as a middle man. The latest ruling says that marijuana extracts are not protected as “usuable marijuana” under the law.

The case came to the court as one where a registered patient and caregiver had food items in their possession which contained extracts from the marijuana plant. These extracts are commonly used by medical marijuana patients as a way to get the drug without having to smoke it. Because the THC extract was baked into brownies, the entire weight of the finished good was counted as a drug. That total weight put the defendant over the limits allowed for possession by patients.

The court ruled that extracts were not considered “useable marijuana” under our statute and no protection from prosecution could be had on that basis. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act states the “leaves, flowers and other useable marijuana” should be counted when determining weight, with the idea that patients shouldn’t be charged for having stems, seeds or plant roots. Since patients are allowed to have 2.5 ounces of cannabis, it matters a great deal how this weight is determined.

Many users of cannabis prefer extracts. Besides being used in edibles, the extracts can be applied topically or “vaped” by putting them in e-cigarettes. If marijuana concentrates are not protected under Michigan law, all these current users are now subject to arrest.

The case was referred back to a lower court because changes in the law after the original verdict may change the guilty verdict, not on the grounds of “useable marijuana” but because caregivers (the defendant was both a patient and a caregiver) are allowed to have greater amounts of the drug.

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