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Michigan court rules on how long marijuana should dry to be 'usable'

In 2008 Michigan voters approved the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which allows qualifying patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. Under the law, registered patients and caregivers may also cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility or outdoors in a place that isn't visible to an adjacent property owner.

While the law clarifies how much cannabis a person may possess for medical purposes, case law is still evolving as to the meaning of "usable" marijuana. Specifically, how long does it take marijuana to dry before it's legally usable? The Michigan Court of Appeals recently weighed in on the matter.

The court heard a case involving a licensed caregiver who was accused of possessing more marijuana than is allowed by law. The woman, who was both a registered patient and caregiver, was charged after police raided a house in Kentwood and seized 5.6 pounds of marijuana. Police reportedly found 34 marijuana plants in the house.

However, the woman argued that the weight of the marijuana was artificially high due to the fact that it was still drying. She said she had harvested the marijuana for hash oil four days prior to the raid.

Despite the fact that an expert witness told the court that typically marijuana should dry for seven to 10 days after harvest in order to be usable under the law, the appeals court determined that criminal charges against the woman were justified because the marijuana was "sufficiently dry" after four days.

However, of the three judges who heard the case, one disagreed with the majority ruling. In her dissent, the judge called on the Michigan Legislature to clarify exactly how long marijuana should dry in order for it to be legally usable. She also stated that the evidence presented in court did not prove that the 5.6 pounds of marijuana consisted of "dried leaves and flowers."

Aside from raising important questions about how marijuana is weighed in criminal cases, the court's decision illustrates how tightly medical marijuana is restricted under Michigan law. If you find yourself facing criminal charges related to marijuana in Michigan, then don't hesitate to speak with a criminal defense lawyer about your case. Aggressive early intervention could be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

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