Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jun 2016
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2016 The Detroit News
Author: Robert Snell


Detroit - Several medical marijuana caregivers and patients have 
filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the Michigan State Police crime 
lab intentionally misrepresented test results that expose thousands 
of people to possible felony charges.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Detroit, 
alleges the state police acted in concert with the Prosecuting 
Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) and other law-enforcement 
agencies, including the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The lawsuit was triggered by an alleged ongoing policy by the state 
to produce inaccurate test results that show marijuana seized during 
criminal investigations contained the synthetic cannabinoid 
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is responsible for marijuana's 
psychoactive effects. THC has little or no psychoactive effect when a 
marijuana plant is converted to an oil or edible, according to the lawsuit.

Under state law, possessing marijuana plant-based oils and edibles is 
a misdemeanor and Michigan residents with medical-marijuana licenses 
are legally allowed to possess them. It is a felony, however, to 
possess synthetic, laboratory-manufactured THC, according to state law.

The state crime lab has established a policy that potentially treats 
plant-based oils and edibles as synthetic THC, a policy that could 
expose people to a felony charge, according to the suit.

"At least one reason for the policy change was to better establish 
probable cause to arrest medical marijuana patients, obtain 
forfeiture of their assets, charge them with crimes they did not 
commit, and to allow felony charges against others for what is at 
most a misdemeanor," Farmington Hills lawyer Michael Komorn wrote in 
the lawsuit.

The state policy could effect thousands of Michigan citizens, 
including about 180,000 registered medical marijuana patients and 
about 33,000 registered caregivers, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs want Chief U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood to 
revise the test results, block the state from issuing faulty reports 
and appoint a crime-lab monitor.

A state police spokeswoman declined comment Thursday.

Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe called the allegations "a 
bunch of garbage."

"Quite frankly, it's all untrue," he said. "We have never had any 
conversations with PAAM, no correspondence, they never called us, 
never emailed us, never contacted us at all on any of this."

The plaintiffs include Brandon Shobe, an Oakland County resident and 
licensed medical-marijuana caregiver. He was charged with possessing 
marijuana, but faces the risk of a felony charge for possessing 
synthetic THC based on an inaccurate lab report, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs obtained emails through the Freedom of Information Act 
that allegedly bolster their case. As early as 2013, the Prosecuting 
Attorneys Association of Michigan pressured the state crime lab to 
uniformly report edibles and oils as containing synthetic THC even 
though plant material was not visible, according to the lawsuit.

Michael Wendling, president of the prosecutor's association, could 
not be reached for comment.
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