Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court decided the People v Kolanek case in which the High Court clarified the availability of the immunity provision and the affirmative defenses set forth in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Last month, the Michigan Supreme Court further developed its medical marijuana jurisprudence when it decided People v Bylsma, which held that the immunity provisions of the MMMA are not available to an accused that operates a marijuana collective unless the the strict tenets of the MMMA are observed.
The Bylsma Court, however, affirmed Kolanek to the extent that it also held that an accused may raise the affirmative defense afforded in the act despite the unavailability due to non-compliance of the statutory immunity. The case was therefore remanded back down to the Kent County Circuit Court for further proceedings.
This case brings the novel factual scenario of a collective grower of medical marijuana. The accused, Ryan Bylsma, operated a marijuana collective with other pot growers. Apparently he assisted others with the horticultural aspects of marijuana cultivation while supplying two patients with a steady supply of pot.
Problems arose when local law enforcement seized nearly 90 plants. Under the MMMA, Bylsma was entitled to possess only 24 plants. The trial court rejected Bylsma's contention that only 24 of the 88 seized plants were his, and that he was assisting other growers with their operations in the collective.
The Michigan Court of Appeals held that since Bylsma did not comply with the strict provisions of the MMMA, he was neither entitled to the immunity provided by the Act, nor the affirmative defense.
The Michigan Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, emphasizing the principle that an accused may still assert the affirmative defenses available under the act, regardless of whether the section 4 immunity has been lost through non-compliance with the terms of the Act.
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