United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
K. Majzoub, Magistrate Judge.
ORDER SUSTAINING THE GOVERNMENT'S OBJECTIONS IN
PART; REJECTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION; AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
Victoria A. Roberts, United States District Judge.
INTRODUCTION AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
midnight on November 23, 2017, two Detroit Police Department
officers drove a marked police vehicle and observed a minivan
parked in front of a vacant house. Officers noted the minivan
appeared to be filled with smoke. Officers suspected
marijuana use. They stopped the patrol car alongside the
minivan and asked whether the occupants were “smoking
it up” and whether they had “mags.” The
occupants told the officers they were smoking cigarettes and
denied having “mags.” The officers exited their
patrol car to conduct an “informational
encounter.” One officer approached the driver's
window and the other approached the passenger side. Defendant
Michael Hinds sat in the front passenger seat. Officers
concluded the occupants were only smoking tobacco products,
but simultaneously observed Hinds rolling a marijuana blunt.
Officers also saw vials “commonly used for packaging
marijuana” in the center console. Hinds told the
officers he had a marijuana card, but the officers said even
with the card, he was transporting marijuana illegally. Hinds
attempted to produce his medical marijuana card several times
but was stopped by officers.
officers then detained the occupants and searched the
minivan. They uncovered a bag containing various types of
drugs and a handgun. They seized the gun and drugs and
referred the case for federal prosecution. The seized
evidence forms the basis of the federal charges against
faces one Count of Possession with Intent to Distribute a
Controlled Substance - Cocaine Base in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1); one Count of Felon in Possession of a
Firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); and one
Count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug
Trafficking Crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).
filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence. He claims his status as
a medical marijuana cardholder under the Michigan Medical
Marihuana Act (“MMMA”) protected him
against the seizure which led to his federal prosecution.
Court REJECTS the Report and Recommendation
filed by the Magistrate Judge to whom the Motion to Suppress
was assigned. The Court ACCEPTS the
Government's objections in part and
DENIES Hinds' Motion to Suppress.
Court is required to make a de novo determination of those
portions of a Report and Recommendation to which specific
objections have been made, and may accept, reject, or modify
any or all of the Magistrate Judge's findings or
recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Crim. P.
The Government's Second Objection Is Sustained - The MMMA
Does Not Create an Exception to the Probable Cause Standard
Under the Fourth Amendment.
Government says the Magistrate Judge erred in her conclusion
that Hinds' status as a medical marijuana patient creates
an exception to the well-established rule: a police officer
who sees marijuana in a car has probable cause to search the
vehicle. See Carter v. Parris, 910 F.3d 835, 839
(6th Cir. 2018); U.S. v. McGhee, 672 F.Supp.2d 804,
812 (S.D. Ohio, 2009). The Government says that while the
MMMA creates limited immunity from arrest, prosecution, or
penalty under Michigan law for a qualifying patient
who is in full compliance, the statute is silent on whether
probable cause can exist to search vehicles when potential
violations of federal law may be presented. The Court agrees.
officers found Hinds in a car filled with smoke late at
night. Circumstances were such that further investigation was
reasonable. Hinds offered to produce his medical marijuana
identification card. Police officers declined his offer and
in the course of their investigation saw that Hinds was not
only rolling a joint, but also had what appeared to be
several vials of marijuana readily accessible in the front
console. Police officers conducted a search of his automobile
based on these observations.
relies heavily on People v. Latz,318 Mich.App. 380
(2016), to argue that a violation of the MMMA is a civil
infraction rather than an arrestable offense, and it cannot
form the ...