Marijuana is a hot topic. Recent developments in Lansing show that the State of Michigan continues to dial back marijuana usage through whatever means available. As reported in the Detroit Free Press, the state is auditing physician certifications in order to find doctors who are improperly, and possibly fraudulently, granting marijuana to ineligible patients. The Free Press also reports that the state legislature is attempting to make it possible for landlords to prohibit medical marijuana in their rental units whether being grown by a licensed caretaker or even just used by a card-carrying patient.
Although the citizens of Michigan voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2008, many lawmakers in the state oppose the drug’s usage, or feel an obligation to at least limit its usage. Further complicating matters is the fact that marijuana is still illegal federally. Though some laws seem well designed to catch abusers, others seem so broad as to punish the people for whom the voters wanted the medical usage of marijuana to be legal. For instance, the bill pertaining to rental units is supposedly to protect landlords from damage and liability that might be caused by growing operations in their rental units, and yet, the bill explicitly prohibits marijuana usage in those units too. The unintended effect may be that medical marijuana can only be used by homeowners (and not renters), something that the voters likely never would have wanted.
On the other hand, due to the improper auditing of physicians certifying medical marijuana cards, it is only now being revealed that for the 2015 fiscal year, of the 1,419 doctors who certified a total of 81,090 medical marijuana applications, a set of only 22 doctors accounted for 46,854 or 56% of all certifications in the state. Even more astonishing, one particular physician certified 11,810 patients in 2015, a whopping 14% of all applications for the year. Auditors estimate that this doctor would have had to see 45 patients a day for each day he claimed to have worked in 2015. These numbers raise serious concerns about the regulatory system’s ability to properly verify certifications and ensure that some physicians are not engaging in fraud. Clearly, the citizens of Michigan did not want to see this level of abuse of the system either.
If you have been charged with a marijuana offense or just have concerns about the changing marijuana laws in Michigan and how they may affect you, you should contact an attorney immediately. Attorney John Freeman has been practicing criminal law for the entirety of his 23-year career and he and his staff are available to help.