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People v. Mazur

Supreme Court of Michigan

June 11, 2015

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CYNTHIA ANN MAZUR, Defendant-Appellant

Argued January 15, 2015.

For PEOPLE OF MI, Plaintiff-Appellee: KATHRYN G BARNES, PROSECUTOR-APPELLATE DIVISION, PONTIAC, MI.

For CYNTHIA ANN MAZUR, Defendant-Appellant: DAVID ADAM RUDOI, ROYAL OAK, MI.

Chief Justice: Robert P. Young, Jr. Justices: Stephen J. Markman, Mary Beth Kelly, Brian K. Zahra, Bridget M. McCormack, David F. Viviano, Richard H. Bernstein. MARKMAN, J. (concurring in part and dissenting in part). ZAHRA, J. (concurring in part and dissenting in part).

OPINION

[497 Mich. 306] BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH

Page 202

Bernstein, J.

This case requires us to examine immunity under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), MCL 333.26421 et seq. We are specifically concerned with the application of the MMMA's immunity provisions to individuals who are neither registered qualifying patients nor primary caregivers. See MCL 333.26424(g); MCL 333.26424(i).

We hold that a defendant claiming that he or she is solely in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marijuana is not entitled to immunity under MCL 333.26424(i) when the medical use of marijuana was not in accordance with the act. Nor is a defendant entitled to immunity under MCL 333.26424(i) when the defendant's conduct goes beyond assisting with the use or administration of marijuana. However, we hold that " marihuana paraphernalia," as that phrase is used in MCL 333.26424(g), includes items that are both specifically designed or actually employed

Page 203

for the medical use of marijuana. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand this case to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Defendant Cynthia Mazur is the wife of David Mazur, who was himself both a registered qualifying patient and a registered primary caregiver for two medical [497 Mich. 307] marijuana patients. David Mazur grew marijuana in their marital home. Officers of the Holly Police Department, acting on a tip, searched the residence for marijuana. Marijuana plants, dried marijuana, and pipes with marijuana residue were found. In executing the search, an officer questioned defendant, who used the first-person plural pronoun " we" when describing the marijuana operation. Although the use of this pronoun led the officers to conclude that defendant was a participant in her husband's marijuana operation, defendant maintains that her involvement was limited to writing the date of harvest for marijuana plants on several sticky notes.

The Oakland County Prosecutor charged both defendant and David with marijuana-related offenses. In a separate proceeding, David pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to deliver less than five kilograms or fewer than 20 plants of marijuana, MCL 333.7401(2)(d)( iii ), and one count of manufacturing less than five kilograms or fewer than 20 plants of marijuana, id. Defendant was charged with the same two offenses. Defendant moved to dismiss the charges against her citing the immunity provision of the MMMA, MCL 333.26424. The circuit court held that MCL 333.26424(g) did not apply because there was no evidence that defendant provided marijuana paraphernalia to either a registered qualifying patient or a caregiver; the circuit court also held that MCL 333.26424(i) did not apply because David's use of medical marijuana was not in compliance with the MMMA. The Court of Appeals affirmed. People v Mazur, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued April 1, 2014 (Docket No. 317447).

Defendant then sought leave to appeal in this Court. We directed the Clerk of the Court to schedule oral [497 Mich. 308] argument on whether to grant the application or take other action, asking the parties to address:

[W]hether the defendant is entitled to immunity under § 4 of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), MCL 333.26421 et seq., specifically MCL 333.26424(g) and/or MCL 333.26424(i), where [defendant's] spouse was a registered qualifying patient and primary caregiver under the act, but his marijuana-related activities inside the family home were not in full compliance with the act. [ People v Mazur, 497 Mich. 883; 854 N.W.2d 719 (2014).]

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Questions of statutory interpretation are reviewed de novo. Michigan v McQueen, 493 Mich. 135, 146-147; 828 N.W.2d 644 (2013). Statutes enacted by the Legislature are interpreted in accordance with legislative intent; similarly, statutes enacted by initiative petition are interpreted in accordance with the intent of the electors. Id. at 147. We begin with an examination of the statute's plain language, which provides " the most reliable evidence" of the electors' intent. See Sun Valley Foods Co v Ward, 460 Mich. 230, 236; 596 N.W.2d 119 (1999), quoting United States v Turkette, 452 U.S. 576, 593; 101 S.Ct. 2524; 69 L.Ed.2d 246 (1981).

Page 204

This Court reviews a trial court's findings of fact for clear error. Miller-Davis Co v Ahrens Constr, Inc, 495 Mich. 161, 172-173; 848 N.W.2d 95 (2014). A factual finding is clearly erroneous if it either lacks substantial evidence to sustain it, or if the reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that the trial court made a mistake. Id.

III. IMMUNITY UNDER THE MICHIGAN MEDICAL MARIHUANA ACT

The MMMA was enacted by voter referendum in 2008 and allows for the medical use of marijuana to [497 Mich. 309] treat or alleviate the pain associated with a debilitating medical condition. Although the Legislature has since amended the MMMA by enacting 2012 PA 512 and 2012 PA 514, the conduct at issue occurred before the date these amendments took effect. Therefore, we consider only the MMMA as originally enacted.

Section 4 of the MMMA concerns immunity. A qualifying patient who receives a registry identification card is entitled to immunity, provided that certain conditions are met. MCL 333.26424(a). A primary caregiver who receives a registry identification card is entitled to the same protection. MCL 333.26424(b). Both Subsections (a) and (b) state that this protection only applies to the " medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act." MCL 333.26424(a) and (b). " Medical use" is defined as:

[T]he acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, internal possession, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marihuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marihuana to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the debilitating medical condition. [MCL 333.26423(e), as enacted by 2008 IL 1.]

Two additional provisions of the MMMA provide immunity to people who are neither registered qualifying patients nor primary caregivers: MCL 333.26424(g) and MCL 333.26424(i). These are the two provisions under which defendant claims immunity.

Section 4(g) states:

A person shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for providing a registered qualifying patient or a registered primary caregiver with marihuana [497 Mich. 310] paraphernalia for purposes of a qualifying patient's medical use of marihuana. [MCL 333.26424(g) (emphasis added).]

Section 4(i) states:

A person shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, solely for being in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act, or for assisting a registered qualifying patient with using or administering marihuana. [MCL 333.26424(i) (emphasis added).]

IV. APPLICATION

Defendant claims entitlement to the immunity defense under both § § 4(g) and 4(i) of the MMMA. Because we agree with the Court of Appeals that defendant is not ...


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