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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Medical marijuana patient wins round in Michigan Court of Appeals


The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an Ottawa County man who was arrested for marijuana possession even though he had been approved for the use of medical marijuana.

James Nicholson was a passenger in a parked vehicle when he was arrested last year.

He told police he hadn't received his medical marijuana card yet, but he did have a copy of his application -- just not with him.

Two lower courts refused to dismiss the case. But this week the Court of Appeals said medical marijuana patients can be given immunity from prosecution if they show their registry card to the court.

Eric Misterovich is Nicholson's lawyer.

"This was a really important case because it's one of the first times that the Court of Appeals has issued an opinion in favor of patients," Misterovich says.

Michigan voters approved the Medical Marijuana Act in 2008.

"The world in which possession of an ounce of marijuana was illegal,  with no questions asked, is over. Now we have this act, it's here, it's been enacted by the people, and it's not going  away," Misterovich says. "The prosecutors, police, and sometimes the court's insistence to try to fight what this act says hurts patients, it slows down the system, and it costs everyone a lot of money."

Nicholson may still have to prove that he was using the marijuana medicinally rather than recreationally -- a topic his lawyer says hasn't yet been tackled by the courts.