Michigan criminal defense attorney

Michigan Court Rules No Marijuana Smoking in Parked Cars

Medical marijuana smoking patients in Michigan

Medical Marijuana Smoking Patients Cannot Medicate Themselves in Parked Cars

Do you think medical marijuana patients should be able to medicate themselves in their cars in public places?

“The many inconsistencies in the law have caused confusion for medical marijuana caregivers and patients, law enforcement, attorneys, and judges and have consumed valuable public and private resources to interpret and apply it.”

~ Justice Brian Zahra as reported by the High Times

According to Michigan Live, last month in a 2-to-1 ruling, the Appeals Court concluded that it is illegal for medical marijuana patients to smoke marijuana in their car when parked in public places.

A can of worms was opened when Michigan legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients. Even today, seven years later, there is still confusion. The latest confusion comes from the private vs. public debate.

This ruling comes for a case in August of 2013. When a medical marijuana patient, Robert Michael Carlton smoked a joint in his car parked at the Soaring Eagle Casino. According to WZZM13, the police were notified that a man was smoking in his car while parked at the casino by the casino’s security workers.

The medical marijuana patient was charged with possession of marijuana. The Isabella County Prosecutor’s Office charged him because he was smoking in a public place.

The Defense

The defense believed that because the car is not a public place, but private, that the charges should be dismissed. Carlton is a registered medical marijuana patient.

The Prosecution

The prosecution argued that the smoking in his car was irrelevant. Rather, he was smoking on public property, the casino’s parking lot, and the parking lot is open to the public.

The Rulings

WZZM13 reported that the district court judge “sided with Carlton” and charges were dismissed and the ruling was upheld by the Isabella County Circuit Court. However, the Court of Appeals decided to reverse the decision and sent the case back. “It (the Court of Appeals) found that Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act does not permit card holders to smoke “in any public place.”

According to Michigan Live, COA Judge Douglas Shapiro disagreed with the majority ruling. He wrote that because Michigan medical marijuana law has specifically said that smoking on public transportation is prohibited that suggest that vehicles are seen as private in some circumstances. He said, “The majority looks only at whether the vehicle itself is in a place defined as public. But the statutory language leaves open the possibility that in some circumstances a private vehicle can constitute a ‘private place’ even though it is located in an area to which the public has access.”

Michigan Legislature Considering Plans

There is a lot of confusion that has come with the medical marijuana law. Currently, legislation is looking at plans that would create a more regulated medical marijuana system. Some ideas include licensed dispensaries and licensed growers.

Over to You

The High Times has reported that Carlton will have a chance to defend himself in front of a jury. The jury will have a chance to weigh in on this private vs. public debate.

If you were on that jury, what would be your decision? Should a medical marijuana patient be allowed to smoke in their car while on public property?

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

This article was published on: December 9, 2015 and was last modified December 10, 2015