Most of us are used to hearing about cannabis legal battles on a large scale, by that I mean federal or parliamentary legislation, high court rulings, and so on. However, there are many small legal precedents and cases which should be examined, as they may have considerable impact in the future. One such case includes a recent ruling by a court in Michigan which occurred last week.
In a unanimous three to zero decision a Michigan court ruled Paul Heminger receive a new trial after being convicted for growing almost two dozen plants in violation of what the state allows. While Heminger did have a medical marijuana card the appeals court determined that he may be growing to sell or distribute. But the important thing here isn’t that Heminger is getting another shoot at a trial, it’s the reason he got off.
After a rather inflammatory series of closing arguments the prosecution against Heminger was the thing which won Heminger his retrial. The prosecutor Karen Bahrman went on a tirade against both the state cannabis laws as well as the Alger Hemp Coalition asserting that the later wanted a “country where everybody can walk around stoned”.
This outburst led the court to rule that “the prosecutor’s closing argument was clearly and thoroughly improper. The prosecutor embarks on a political commentary, and a personal diatribe discrediting the [law] as a whole.” Now keep in mind this could have happened anyway if the prosecution had only ranted and raved incoherently, but there’s a nugget of hope which affects the rest of us.
The court’s ruling included an endorsement of the state’s medical cannabis laws, as well as a hint of sympathy for those who take advantage of the law. Part of the court ruling included “[Bahrman] calls the act ‘meaningless,’ and suggests that those suffering from chronic pain are simply cheating the system.” So while this may seem like a rather minor positive development (after all the defendant is still facing jail time) for one man this ruling does demonstrate that minor courts are at least compassionate towards those who rely on cannabis for pain management and are willing to defend legislation which allows people to use it from the bench.
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