People v Carruthers Usable Marihuana Defined & Limited UPDATED

On Thursday, June 11, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court denied hearing the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case by order, which was on appeal from the Michigan Court of Appeals. The People v Carruthers usable marihuana case when interpreted by Michigan Court of Appeal created many issues that Medical Marihuana Patients and Caregivers hoped to see settled by the Michigan Supreme Court. See People v Carruthers. However, the Michigan Supreme Court will not hear the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case; therefore, the opinion and legal analysis and statements by the Court of Appeals will remain in effect until there is a legislative modification.

What Did The Court of Appeals say in the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case?

The court specially and repeatedly stated that resin (or THC extract) based brownies were not and are not considered “usable marihuana” as explained in Section 4 (Immunity). The court further explained that because resin brownies are not considered to be “usable” an individual in possession of such brownies does not qualify for Section 4. The court, in essence, found a loophole around qualifying an act for immunity even though it involves marijuana, and thus similarly as the Michigan Supreme Court in People v McQueen found, an individual in possession of resin brownies must rely on a Section 8 Affirmative Defense.

Usable Marihuana under the MMMA is defined as:

“dried leaves and flowers of the marihuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant.” MCL § 333.2642(3)(k).

The court in the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case interpreted this definition narrowly. Therefore, usable marihuana, as indicated in the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case, does not include all parts of the marihuana plant, meaning the resins, nor does it include “every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin.” Marihuana, under general state law, on the other hand includes “all parts” of the cannabis plant, as well as “the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin.

The court in the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case dealt with a resin based product known as “Cannabutter,” which contained THC extract. The THC extract can be taken from any part of the plant, and it would still, under the People v Carruthers usable marihuana opinion, not be considered “usable marihuana” under the MMMA.

So in the end, the court in the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case, explained that a substance must contain plant material in order to be considered  “usable” under Section 4 of the MMMA. It also went on to explain that Section 8 (Affirmative Defense) does not maintain a narrow definition for marihuana when compared to Section 4. Therefore, the court in the People v Carruthers usable marihuana case left open the possiblity for a Section 8 affirmative defense for issues involving resins based marihuana products.

The court, however, did note that the potency of resin brownies, under a Section 8 defense, would come into play when determining whether the individual possessed an amount reasonably necessary to alleviate or treat the medical condition. It also stated that “[g]iven the unmeasurable nature of the highly potent THC contained in such edibles, the health and welfare of Michigan citizens would be threatened, and prosecutions for possession and use of edibles containing higher-than-allowed quantities of THC would be systematically thwarted.”

It is always necessary to know the law, know your rights, and maintain your ability to fight, especially when dealing with the MMMA. This opinion has made Section 4 narrower and more specific on what you can and cannot do in order to qualify for Immunity. NEVER RELY ON ANY ARTICLE, INCLUDING THIS ONE, IF ATTEMPTING TO REPRESENT OR DEFEND YOURSELF IN A COURT OF LAW. NOTHING ON THE INTERNET CAN COMPENSATE OR REPLACE LEGAL COUNSEL. LAWYER-UP.

About Josh Jones

Josh Jones is an experienced and professional Michigan Criminal Defense attorney presenting Metro Detroit, Genesee County, Livingston County, Lapeer County, and others throughout the State of Michigan. He is available 7-days a week and handles all felonies, misdemeanors, probation violations, traffic tickets, and drivers license restoration. Josh is only a phone call away and is here to help when you are involved with the criminal justice system.