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Mich. Supreme Court Makes 1st Medical Pot Rulings

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CBS Detroit (con't)

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DETROIT (AP) - In its first medical marijuana ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court said Thursday that a man arrested for drug manufacturing deserves another day in court to defend his outdoor, locked chain-link dog kennel as a legally proper facility in which to grow his pot.

The state’s highest court unanimously ruled that the law approved by voters in 2008 contains plainer language and broader protections than the way in which it was interpreted by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which said that Larry King’s kennel didn’t qualify has a place to keep marijuana. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and said the Shiawassee County resident who had a valid medical marijuana card was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the matter.

In another case within the same ruling, the court said that Alexander Kolanek of Oakland County needed a doctor’s statement confirming a medical need for marijuana after the state law was enacted and before his 2009 arrest. That affirmed an appeals court ruling but the high court said a person accused of a marijuana-related crime has a right to assert a medical marijuana defense if the doctor’s recommendation was already in hand.

Kolanek, 25, has said he smoked marijuana to deal with problems related to Lyme disease. He talked to a doctor about the medical benefits of pot before voters approved its legal use but didn’t get the doctor’s authorization until after an arrest for possessing marijuana.

Thursday’s decisions clarify a state law that allows medical marijuana under some circumstances but has caused much confusion. Marijuana can be used to alleviate the symptoms of certain illnesses if someone sees a doctor and gets a state-issued card. People can possess up to 2 { ounces of ready-to-use marijuana and have up to 12 plants in a locked area.

King, 55, who has chronic back pain, was charged with drug crimes after Owosso police discovered marijuana growing in a dog kennel, which had a locked, 6-foot-high fence and was partly covered with black plastic.

Attorney Dan Korobkin of the Michigan chapter of American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that it’s the first major decision in favor of a medical marijuana patient in the state.

“This decision makes it very clear: A patient who uses marijuana to treat their medical conditions with the approval by their doctor should not be punished for mere technical errors regarding the number of plants or how they were secured,” he said.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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