Circuit Court LC No. 14-011348-AR
Before: Ronayne Krause, P.J., and O'Connell and Gleicher,
Ronayne Krause, P.J.
Callen Latz, a medical marijuana patient, appeals by leave
granted from an order affirming the denial of his motion to
dismiss his charge of illegal transportation of marijuana,
MCL 750.474. Defendant pleaded guilty subject to his right to
appeal the legality of the statute, which he asserts was an
unconstitutional amendment of the Michigan Medical Marijuana
Act (MMMA), MCL 333.26421 et seq., and was
superseded by the MMMA. We reverse and remand.
Court reviews de novo issues of statutory interpretation.
People v Miller, 498 Mich. 13, 16-17; 869 N.W.2d 204
(2015). The goal of statutory interpretation is to ascertain
and apply the intent of the drafter, which is the Legislature
in the case of legislatively enacted statutes like MCL
750.474, and is the electorate in the case of voter-initiated
statutes like the MMMA. People v Hartwick, 498 Mich.
192, 209-210, 201 n 28; 870 N.W.2d 37 (2015). The best
evidence of that intent is the plain language used, and the
courts do not evaluate the wisdom of any statute or act.
Id. at 210. Statutes are read "as a whole,
" People v Jones, 301 Mich.App. 566, 578; 837
N.W.2d 7 (2013), and we give "'every word . . .
meaning.'" Id., quoting People v
Peltola, 489 Mich. 174, 181; 803 N.W.2d 140 (2011)
(altered here). "If a statute specifically defines a
term, the statutory definition is controlling."
People v Lewis, 302 Mich.App. 338, 342; 839 N.W.2d
37 (2013). We "must avoid a construction that would
render any part of the statute[s] surplusage or
nugatory." Id. at 341. "If the statutory
language is clear and unambiguous, " the inquiry stops.
Braska v Challenge Mfg Co, 307 Mich.App. 340, 352;
861 N.W.2d 289 (2014).
entirety, MCL 750.474 provides:
(1)A person shall not transport or possess usable marihuana
as defined in section 26423 of the public health code, 1978
PA 368,  MCL 333.26423, in or upon a motor
vehicle or any self-propelled vehicle designed for land
travel unless the usable marihuana is 1 or more of the
(a) Enclosed in a case that is carried in the trunk of the
(b) Enclosed in a case that is not readily accessible from
the interior of the vehicle, if the vehicle in which the
person is traveling does not have a trunk.
(2) A person who violates this section is guilty of a
misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93
days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
statute was enacted by 2012 PA 460, which was after
the enactment of the MMMA, which went into effect with the
passage of 2008 IL 1. Therefore, defendant's argument
that the MMMA "superseded" the illegal
transportation of marijuana statute is impossible.
Black's Law Dictionary defines
supersede as: to annul, make void, or repeal by taking the
place of. As a general matter, to supersede something entails
an act later in time.
courts are not narrow-mindedly bound by the labels given to
an argument by a party, but rather by the substance thereof.
See In re Traub Estate, 354 Mich. 263, 278-279; 92
N.W.2d 480 (1958); Wilcox v Moore, 354 Mich. 499,
504; 93 N.W.2d 288 (1958); Tipton v William Beaumont
Hosp, 266 Mich.App. 27, 33; 697 N.W.2d 552 (2005). It is
clear to us that, however defendant chose to articulate it,
the gravamen of his argument is that the MMMA preempts the
illegal transportation of marijuana statute. In the absence
of any dispute whether defendant was in compliance with the
MMMA,  we presume that he was in compliance.
We perceive the question before us to be, in substance,
whether an irreconcilable conflict exists between the MMMA
and the illegal transportation of marijuana statute under the
circumstances of this case, and if so, whether the MMMA
precludes defendant's conviction.
reverse order, if such an irreconcilable conflict exists, the
MMMA clearly and unambiguously does preclude
defendant's conviction. The MMMA states that "[a]ll
other acts . . . inconsistent with this act do not apply to
the medical use of marihuana as provided for by this
act." MCL 333.26427(e). Therefore, if another statute is
inconsistent with the MMMA such that it punishes the proper
use of medical marijuana, the MMMA controls and the person
properly using medical marijuana is immune from punishment.
People v Koon, 494 Mich. 1, 7; 823 N.W.2d 724 (2013)
(finding that a portion of the Michigan Vehicle Code was
"inconsistent with the MMMA, " so it did "not
apply to the medical use of marijuana"). See also,
Ter Beek v City of Wyoming, 495 Mich. 1, 20-21; 846
N.W.2d 531 (2014) (finding that a city "[o]rdinance
directly conflict[ed] with the MMMA by . . . imposi[ng] . . .
a penalty . . . on a registered qualifying patient whose
medical use of marijuana f[ell] within the scope of [the
MMMA's] § 4(a)'s immunity" and that the
MMMA preempted the ordinance) (internal quotations and
citations omitted); Braska, 307 Mich.App. at
357-359, 365 (finding that the MMMA conflicted with a portion
of the Michigan Employment Security Act (MESA), the MMMA
preempted the MESA, and persons complying with the MMMA were,
therefore, immune from penalty under the MESA).
prosecutor attempts to analogize the illegal transportation
of marijuana statute to laws governing the transportation of
alcohol. This comparison is inapt under the circumstances.
If, hypothetically, marijuana were to be decriminalized
generally with no particular other qualifications,
then the comparison would make sense, because,
obviously, the Legislature would remain completely within its
rights to regulate, inter alia, the manner in which
it could be transported when possessed for
recreational purposes. Furthermore, a person
illegally possessing marijuana could be properly
charged with illegally transporting it in addition to
illegally possessing it. Neither scenario would affect the
special status afforded to marijuana possessed for
medical purposes, and in fact the illegal
transportation of marijuana statute expressly refers to
"usable marihuana" under the MMMA rather than
marijuana generally. In other words, if the Legislature
treated marijuana like alcohol, then the prosecutor's
analogy to alcohol would make sense. It is manifestly
apparent that a significant percentage of the population
would like the Legislature to do so, but that is
not, at present, the state of the law.
the MMMA, . . . '[t]he medical use of marihuana is
allowed . . . to the extent that it is carried out in
accordance with the provisions of th[e] act.'"
Hartwick, 498 Mich. at 209, quoting MCL 333.26427(a)
(altered here). If persons comply with the MMMA, it grants
"broad" "immunity" from prosecution. MCL
333.26424(a); Braska, 307 Mich.App. at 357-358. As
noted, there is no dispute, at least for the purposes of this
appeal, that defendant was in compliance with the MMMA. The
MMMA defines medical use as the "acquisition,
possession, . . . use, . . . delivery, transfer, or
transportation of marihuana . . . relating to the
administration of marihuana to treat or alleviate a
registered qualifying patient's debilitating medical
condition or" "associated"
"symptoms." MCL 333.26423(f) (emphasis added). The
illegal transportation of marijuana statute expressly refers
to this provision and unambiguously seeks to place
additional requirements on the transportation of medical
marijuana beyond those imposed by the MMMA. Thus, MCL 750.474
clearly subjects persons in compliance with the MMMA to
prosecution despite that ...