Medical Marijuana

Michigan Prosecutors Drop Case Against Medical Marijuana Patient and Agree to Return Her Stuff

The county kept Ginnifer Hency's property even after the charge against her was dismissed.

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Michigan House of Representatives

Last May, Ginnifer Hency, a Michigan medical marijuana patient and caregiver, told state legislators about the July 2014 raid in which cops from the St. Clair County Drug Task Force came to her house and "took everything," including a car, TV sets, ladders, her children's cellphones and iPads, and even her vibrator. A marijuana charge against Hency was dismissed because she was complying with state law. But prosecutors were still seeking to keep her family's property through civil forfeiture. Last Wednesday, when prosecutors were expected to argue at a hearing before Circuit Judge Michael West that the marijuana charge should be reinstated, Hency learned that they had instead decided to drop the case. They also told her the seized property would be returned.

The search of Hency's home followed a raid on a medical marijuana clinic during which police found six ounces of marijuana in her backpack—well within the 15-ounce legal limit for her and the five patients she assists. Police arrested Hency for possession with intent to deliver, she says, "but I'm allowed to possess, and I'm allowed to deliver." During the search of her house, police seized plants that she and her husband, who is also a registered patient and caregiver, were growing in separate, locked rooms, as required by state law. Police never charged Hency's husband, and they never charged her with manufacturing marijuana. But after a judge dismissed the possession charge, prosecutors appealed that decision. And when Hency asked about getting her property back, she says, a prosecutor told her, "I can still beat you in civil court. I can still take your stuff." 

Last week, however, prosecutors said they were dropping the criminal and civil cases "in the interest of justice." They cited a July 27 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court that applied Section 4 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, which says qualifying patients and caregivers "shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty" for producing, possessing, or distributing marijuana in compliance with the law. The court said a patient or caregiver seeking immunity is entitled to a pretrial hearing at which he must prove, "by a preponderance of the evidence," that he "possessed a valid registry identification card," complied with the law's quantity limits, "kept any marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility," and was using or providing marijuana for medical puposes. It noted that "a defendant is presumed to be engaged in the medical use of marijuana if the defendant possesses a valid registry identification card and is not in violation of the volume limitations."

Since Hency met those requirements, she qualified for immunity. Then again, that much should have been clear to prosecutors even before this decision. Although the statute does not specifically mention a pretrial hearing or the standard of evidence to be used, its conditions for immunity are straightforward, and immunity requires that the determination be made prior to trial. Under the recent ruling, St. Clair County Prosecutor Michael Wendling told the Detroit Free Press, "We would have to have specific evidence on those items in order to overcome that burden now that we did not have to show before." But the presumption of medical use based on registration and compliance with the quantity limits was not invented by the Michigan Supreme Court; it is specified by the statute.

Hency, who uses marijuana to relieve pain related to multiple sclerosis, says she never understood the rationale for accusing her of breaking the law. She suggests prosecutors "are looking for a way to save face" following the negative publicity generated by cases like hers. She hopes their new position will lead them to reconsider other cases involving medical marijuana patients and caregivers. Wendling said his office is re-examining 18 or so cases in light of the Michigan Supreme Court's decision. Hency says residents of St. Clair County are hardly clamoring for a crackdown on medical marijuana users, which she thinks has been driven mainly by a desire for easy forfeiture booty.

Charmie Gholson of Michigan Moms United, who also testified at last May's hearing, thinks "Gin's courage to go public and speak the truth" explains the reversal. "Drug task forces can count on the people they violate to remain quiet due to both the threat of returning—they are armed and masked and terrifying—and the threat of pending charges," Gholson says. "I've been interviewing SWAT survivors since 2010, and trust me, these people all want others to know what's happening to them, but they are too terrified to speak out."

NEXT: Mao More Than Ever: Chinese Broadcaster in Big Trouble for Mocking Mass Killer

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  1. Pure evil.

    We’ll never be free until the last judge is strangled with the entrails of the last prosecutor.

    /hyperbolic juvenile bluster

  2. You can take my vibrator from my sweaty, calloused hands.

  3. Wow. SOFT ON CRIME MUCH??!!!!

    Thanks for making my state that much less safe. Too bad we can’t brand drug freaks like this lady so I know when she’s near.

    for the children, of course.

  4. Hency says residents of St. Clair County are hardly clamoring for such cases, which she thinks are driven mainly by a desire for easy forfeiture booty.

    Yeah, my palms bleed for you, St. Hency. While your eyes – and “whatever” – bleed cause YOU’RE SO HIGH ON THE MARIJUANA.

    /Trump

  5. OT: GILMORE, you around? You want to be part of my campaign? Cause I could use someone like you – mainly for sartorial counsel. Plus to put out written hits on other candidates.

    Why?

    Because, Almanian for President – 2016 – Probably Won’t Make It Any Worse

    1. Your attempt to co-opt our reform movement is accepted

      We will feast on the bones of any who dare oppose you

      1. “Ohhhhh boyyyyyy – this is gonna be GREAT!”

        /Flounder

  6. Also, would

    1. ditto

      Maybe we can make her a star attraction in my campaign? Then bang her after then events, keeping her stocked with MJ for her efforts.

      I like where this is headed already….

  7. Does anybody know if the repeal of prohibition was followed by a period when former Prohibition agents and assorted laws enforcement goons made pointless attempts to harass newly legal businesses?

    It wouldn’t astonish me, it fits a certain mindset, but I thought that the accepted narrative was that Eliot Ness’s reaction to repeal was “Well, I guess I’ll get a drink.”

    1. Yes, the agents were allowed to keep harassing people.

      It’s called the Wat on Drugs.

  8. The process is the punishment.

  9. And when Hency asked about getting her property back, she says, a prosecutor told her, “I can still beat you in civil court. I can still take your stuff.”

    I mean is there any better example of FYTW?

    I am partially encourage that folks like those over at Heritage are getting the idea that civil asset forfeiture is fuckedup. Unfortunately, they still think it just need to be reformed rather than eliminated.

    1. I wonder how he would have responded if she had just asked him “But why would you do that?” Would he have been honest, or come up with some boilerplate War on Drugs rhetoric?

  10. Michigan Medical Marihuana Act

    Drafted by Hank Hill.

  11. I wish I could kidnap people and take their stuff with no legal authority to do so and get away with it.

    1. yknow i really don’t wish to be able to do that at all. i guess that’s the difference between me and officers of the law

  12. “When I get my stuff back I will consider it over,” Hency said.

    I wonder if prosecutors checked with the sheriff before promising to return her belongings. It’s just as likely they’ve been appropriated by police officers for personal use or sold for spending money.

    1. “Whelp, here you are Ms. Hency.”
      :: Points to beat up ’84 Honda Accord
      “One car.”
      ::Points to rotted out, four-foot wooden item
      “One ladder”
      ::Points to two faded CRTs
      “Two TV sets”
      ::Points to three Nokia 8210’s
      “Three cell phones”
      :: Point to a cucumber
      “One…. unmentionable.

      “Sign here, please and all this unpleasantness will be over with.”

      1. “One Swedish made penis enlarger”
        “One credit card receipt for Swedish made penis enlarger”
        “One warranty card for Swedish made penis enlarger”

        1. “One book: Swedish-made penis enlarger pumps and me: (This sort of thing is my bag baby)”

  13. I mean her vibrator FFS?? That is conclusive proof that this whole thing is to fuck this family over (and send a message to other marijuana activists).

  14. which she thinks has been driven mainly by a desire for easy forfeiture booty.

    Go on…

  15. For the record, Mao is widely considered responsible for between 20 million and 40 million deaths. He also oversaw the creation of Laogai, a forced-labor and penal system that the Communist Party wants to keep in the dark. Go here to learn more about that.

    Oh, and Koch Bros. propaganda.

  16. cops from the St. Clair County Drug Task Force came to her house and “took everything,” including a car, TV sets, ladders, her children’s cellphones and iPads, and even her vibrator.

    “You’ll learn your place, peasant. Here’s your FYTW receipt.”

  17. How do we un entrance the prohibition industry which cost society more than $50 Billion a year and is History’s most golden cash cow. That’s a lot of high paying jobs that would vanish overnight with no replacements job other than what will come with canna prosperity. The demographics have changed and the internet has exposed the truth about cannabis prohibition. There is no where in the constitution that makes prohibition legal or is there any scientific justification for its prohibition. Maintaining prohibition is Constitutional treason

    1. we’ve been doing it too long to stop now

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