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United States v. Samp

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

March 29, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT L. SAMP, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On April 14, 2016, Defendant Robert L. Samp was indicted on three counts of willfully failing to prepare and file an income tax return. On August 10, 2016, the Court granted Samp's motion to substitute retained attorneys for his appointed counsel. On the same day, the Government issued a superseding indictment which charged Samp with the additional offense of possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3). ECF No. 20.

         Several months later, Samp filed a motion for injunctive relief. ECF No. 30. In the motion, Samp challenges the Government's authority to prosecute Count Four of the superseding indictment. That count asserts that Samp, “then being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, knowingly possessed a firearm, in and affecting commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).” ECF Nos. 20, 47. In support of his motion for injunctive relief, Samp relies upon United States v. McIntosh, 833 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2016), where the Ninth Circuit concluded that a provision in a federal appropriations bill barred federal prosecutors from charging defendants with crimes for actions undertaken in full compliance with state medical marijuana laws. On December 13, 2016, the Court issued an order addressing Samp's motion for injunctive relief which reasoned, in relevant part:

In McIntosh, . . . [t]he appellants based their argument on the following rider which Congress included in an omnibus appropriations bill:
None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, Pub. L. No. 113- 235, § 538, 128 Stat. 2130, 2217 (2014).
An essentially identical rider was included in the appropriations act for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, Pub. L. No. 114-113, § 542, 129 Stat. 2242, 2332-33 (2015).
. . . The McIntosh Court concluded that, “at a minimum, § 542 prohibits DOJ from spending funds from relevant appropriations acts for the prosecution of individuals who engaged in conduct permitted by the State Medical Marijuana Laws and who fully complied with such laws.” Id. at 1177. However, the court also found that the statutory language does not prevent the DOJ from prosecuting “individuals who engage in conduct unauthorized under state medical marijuana laws.” Id. at 1178.
The McIntosh Court chose to “leave to the district courts . . . the precise remedy that would be appropriate” for violations of § 542. Id. at 1179. However, the court did hold that: “If DOJ wishes to continue these prosecutions, Appellants are entitled to evidentiary hearings to determine whether their conduct was completely authorized by state law, by which we mean that they strictly complied with all relevant conditions imposed by state law on the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana.” Id.
. . . The language of § 542 clearly prohibits the DOJ from expending funds to prevent Michigan from implementing its own state law regarding the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana. Here, Count Four is charging Samp with possession of firearms in connection with his medical marijuana business. The Government has not alleged that Samp's possession of the firearms was unlawful apart from his medical marijuana business. Although the Government is not attempting to directly prosecute Samp for his medical marijuana business, which would be in direct violation of § 542, Count Four accomplishes materially the same effect. Accordingly, if Samp fully complied with the Michigan medical marijuana law, then the Government's prosecution of Count Four is in violation of § 542.
To answer the question of whether Samp was complying with the Michigan medical marijuana law, an evidentiary hearing is necessary. The remaining issue is which party bears the burden of proof at the hearing. . . . It is axiomatic that criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty and that the Government bears the burden of demonstrating their guilt. See In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 362 (1970). As such, the presumption must be that Samp has complied with the Michigan medical marijuana law. If the Government can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Samp was not in full compliance with the Michigan medical marijuana law, then the Government will be allowed to continue prosecuting Count Four.

         After three days of hearings on Samp's pending motion to enjoin the Government from prosecuting Count Four of the indictment, ECF No. 30, the Court directed the parties to submit supplemental briefing on several issues related to the provisions of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) as they existed during the relevant timeframe. ECF No. 50. The Court also directed the Government to submit relevant law enforcement investigative reports. For the reasons stated below, the motion for injunctive relief will be denied.

         I.

         A.

         On the first day of the evidentiary hearing, Detective-Sergeant Robert “Mike” Hahn testified regarding the search of Samp's residence from which the current charges stem. At the time, Hahn was a member of the Huron Undercover Narcotics Team (“HUNT”). He testified that Samp first came to HUNT's attention after the DEA intercepted a Fed-Ex package which contained marijuana. After investigating the source of the package, HUNT obtained a warrant to search Samp's residence and several medical marijuana dispensaries he operated. On September 21, 2011, more than four years before the indictment would be returned, HUNT executed the warrant and searched Samp's residence.

         According to Hahn, the search of the residence, dispensaries, and marijuana grow locations revealed Samp “to be in gross violation of almost every provision of Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act.” Supp. Rep. 0001 at 1-2, ECF No. 55, Ex. 15. Hahn's testimony at the hearing relied heavily upon the incident reports he prepared subsequent to the search. See Supp. Rep. 0002, ECF No. 55, Ex. 10. In the report, Hahn listed over fifteen different containers seized from the Samp residence which included confirmed or suspected marijuana. See Id. at 1-8. In total (and including the weight of the original packaging), those containers weighed approximately 667.5 grams. Although much of the marijuana was seized from a closet connected to the master bedroom in Samp's residence, a significant amount of ...


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