Transporting Medical Marijuana in Michigan, for Caregivers and Patients
The following article explores the statutes for transporting medical marijuana for patient and caregivers. This article does not discuss transporting medical marijuana within the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act(MMFLA). The MMFLA requires “secured transporters” for the transfer of medical marijuana associated with the marijuana supply chain for a marijuana dispensary; otherwise, know as provisioning centers under the MMFLA. As soon as a patient or caregiver leaves a provisioning center, they must transport their medical marijuana according to MCL 750.474
A new marijuana law that impacts the rights of medical marijuana patients under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) MCL 333.26421 took effect on April 1st of 2013. The new law is called “Transporting or Possession of Usable Marihuana.” MCL 750.474.
MCL 750.474 states:
(1) A person shall not transport or possess usable marihuana as defined in section 26423 of the public health code, MCL 333.26423, in or upon a motor vehicle or any self-propelled vehicle designed for land travel unless the usable marihuana is 1 or more of the following:
(a) Enclosed in a case that is carried in the trunk of the vehicle.
(b) Enclosed in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle, if the vehicle in which the person is traveling does not have a trunk.
(2) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
This law is similar to the laws regarding transporting firearms in Michigan. If your automobile has a trunk, you should place the marijuana in your trunk, within a closed case. Neither MCL 750.474 or MCL 333.26423 define the meaning of “case.” The marijuana should be transported in a closable box, chest, or suitcase. In the future, the courts will define what a “case” means under this statute. To prevent yourself from being charged with this crime and becoming a test case for this statute, carry the marijuana within something that resembles a box, preferably something that closes and locks. I would not transport the marijuana inside a plastic bag within the trunk or a mason jar within the trunk. This advice may seem like overkill, but it only takes one disgruntled prosecutor to charge this crime, best to take every precaution to avoid a real headache. The intent behind requiring a closable case becomes apparent when the automobile doesn’t have a trunk. In this situation, transporting marijuana must occur within the confines of the passenger compartment. The intent of this law is to prevent easy access to an intoxicating drug while the car is moving. A secondary intent could also be to prevent marijuana disclosure to the public. So within a station wagon car, the best location for the marijuana would be the furthest point from the driver. The marijuana should be transported within a closable box, chest, or suitcase so that it isn’t readily visible from someone walking next to the car looking within the car. If you carry the marijuana within a jar, people walking by could spot it. Again, the best approach is to transport the marijuana in a closable box, chest, or suitcase, away from public view.
Usable marijuana is defined as the following:
MCL 333.26423(k): “Usable marihuana” means the 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. The important information to take away from this definition is that usable marijuana represents the finished product ready for consumption. People should treat edible medication the same as smokable marijuana, and carry the products in a closable container. So what about transporting living marijuana plants? Transporting green plants would fail outside of this statute, and a good criminal defense attorney could defeat the charge based on that fact. The rules found for transporting green living marijuana plants are found in MCL 333.26423 (d) . . . . Enclosed, locked facility includes a motor vehicle if both of the following conditions are met:
(1) The vehicle is being used temporarily to transport living marihuana plants from 1 location to another with the intent to permanently retain those plants at the second location.
(2) An individual is not inside the vehicle unless he or she is either the registered qualifying patient to whom the living marihuana plants belong or the individual designated through the department registration process as the primary caregiver for the registered qualifying patient.
It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where an MMMA patient or caregiver transport potted marijuana plants in the bed of a pick-up truck. Suck use of an open bed truck would surely fall outside of the definition of enclosed locked facility. The courts will have to decide whether a truck meets the definition of enclosed locked facility. To prevent becoming the test case for the above issue, for now, MMMA patients and caregivers should avoid using trucks for transporting living plants, unless there is a truck bed cab that is lockable or the plants are within the passenger compartment. The only passenger in the automobile should be the registered patient or the designated caregiver.
All MMMA participants should transport their medication in a solid, none transparent container, either in a car trunk or within the passenger cabin, far from the reach of the driver.
About the author:
Matthew Benedict is a medical marijuana attorney serving all of Northern Michigan, including Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Leelanau County, Wexford County, Benzie County, Antrim County, and Kalkaska County. Please call today for an appointment, 231-883-4170. Thanks for reading my blog. Please visit my medical marijuana blog here.