A panel of three judges favorably ruled for the prosecution in Grand Traverse County restoring a criminal case against Rodney Koon.
The defendant was originally pulled over for speeding. An officer smelled intoxicants, and Koon then consented to a pat down search of his person where he produced a pipe. Koon told the officer he had a medical marijuana card and last smoked a joint about 5 or 6 hours previously. A blood test was performed after Koon's arrest which was found to contain THC.
"Defendant was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a Schedule 1 controlled substance in his body under the “zero tolerance” law. The district court concluded that the MMMA protected defendant from prosecution under MCL 257.625(8), unless the prosecution could show that defendant was actually impaired by the presence of marijuana in his body. The circuit court affirmed and concluded that the MMMA supersedes the zero tolerance law," according to the court.
Unfortunately, this case doesn't solve any problems with regard to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, and the Motor Vehicle Code. In particular, the definition of "under the influence" as it relates to marijuana.
Marijuana can hang around in the body for a month. If a person were pulled over, and had not smoked pot in a while, say three weeks, the test could still show positive. Is the person "under the influence" in that scenario? According to the courts, yes.
(Michigan Compiled Law) MCL 257.625(8) provides as follows:
- (8) A person, whether licensed or not, shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles, within this state if the person has in his or her body any amount of a controlled substance listed in schedule 1 under section 7212 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7212, or a rule promulgated under that section, or of a controlled substance described in section 7214(a)(iv) of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7214.
Unfortunately, this decision will further muddy the waters of Michigan's medical marijuana laws, especially with regard to what under the influence means due to THC remaining in the body for long periods of time.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, (MMMA) was passed by 68% of the voters in 2008 allowing the possession, growing, and use of the drug for medical purposes.
However, the police, courts, and some communities around Michigan are making such a mess out of the medical marijuana questions as well as the laws, legal litigation is growing rapidly.
In the meantime, people who use medical marijuana are suffering, and often confused as to what the laws are regarding this substance.
As for Koon, he may be made a criminal for smoking a joint 5 to 6 hours prior to getting behind the wheel of his car, and driving it.
Michigan Court of Appeals case: People vs Rodney Lee Koon
If you or a loved one needs help with any type of drug abuse/addiction problem, contact these sites depending on where you live. SEMCA (Wayne County residents), CARE (Macomb County residents), PACE (Oakland County residents), Drug Free Detroit (City of Detroit residents). For those residing outside the State of Michigan, contact SAMHSA for assistance. For assistance with medical marijuana issues contact The Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Michigan Medical Marijuana Certification Center, or greentreesdetroit.com, phone number: (313) 967-9999, or (248) 677-2888.