A Divided Michigan Court of Appeals Narrowly Defines a "Locked Enclosure" Requirement for Growing Medical Marijuana

In People v King a two to one panel of the Court of Appeals narrowly defined what a locked enclosure was in a manufacturing of marijuana case. Judge Fitzgerald dissented.

Mr. King had a caregiver card and was was growing medical marijuana in his home. He grew it in two places. The first was an outdoor fenced area which was six foot tall and locked with a chain and padlock. There was no roof so someone could climb over the fence. It may have also been possible to left the fence up and come underneath. The other area was his locked home, but the backdoor lock was missing a nob and someone could open the door by directly manipulating the latch. The Court of Appeals ruled that neither facility constituted a locked enclosure within the meaning of the law. Judge Fitzgerald launched a strong dissent.

The problem with Michigan’s Medical Marijuana law is that if the police can find a minor variance form the law, they get to charge you with a felony and forfeit your assets. If a doctor’s office, a restaurant, or other licensed establishment had a similar violation, they would receive a ticket and a fine their first time up to the plate. Law enforcement and prosecutors don’t like the law and are looking for ways to evade it. Just last week,
Royal Oak passed a local ordinance restricting it. I suspect what their real hope is that they can stop Medical Marijuana from taking root in Michigan for five years. At that point, the Legislature can overturn the People’s referendum.

Right now, with a law degree and significant criminal training, I would be afraid to grow or use medical marijuana. With all my legal training, I could not guarantee that prosecutor or a police officer could not find some technical violation on one day of my life and charge me with a felony.

My advice right now is:

  • Grow the marijuana in a separately locked room;
  • Use a digital locking pad on the door so that the key would not be accessible to a non-caregiver;
  • Be strict about the quantities that are maintained;
  • Check your local zoning laws;
  • Keep your original card on you if the product leaves the home;
  • Place a xerox of the license on the outside of the door;
  • Encrypt your digital data with TrueCrypt picking a good password. The police will seize your computers and attempt to read your patient information and harass them;

Keep copies of all your records off premise. If the police raid your home, they will seize all your records. All of this, however, is shooting at a moving target. No one can give advice with absolute certainty and this advice may prove dated before I hit the “publish” button.