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Court Update - State Must Disclose Medical Marijuana Records to Feds

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Ronald D. Richards Jr.
Foster Swift Municipal Law News
June 2011

On June 4, 2011, a federal district court ruled that the Michigan Department of Community Health must give over documents that the federal drug enforcement agency asked for involving 7 persons who applied for medical marijuana caregiver and patient cards. The Department of Community Health had opposed the disclosure, citing the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act’s confidentiality rules. But the judge ruled that the confidentiality rules in the Michigan Act do not prevent disclosure since (a) the Michigan Act did not give any privacy rights to those who violate federal laws; and (b) the items sought were intended to be shown to police even under the Michigan Act. The judge explained: "the use of marijuana remains a federal felony. The new Michigan statute makes no claim, of course, that the federal government cannot continue to enforce federal law, or that the Michigan statute overrides federal law." So the judge concluded that the Michigan Act does not — and cannot — present any obstacles to the federal government enforcing federal drug laws. The judge’s ruling required the Department to disclose the patient and caregiver registration cards for the seven individuals at issue, and associated applications. (USA v Dep’t of Community Health, WD Mich, 1:10-mc-109).

This decision suggests that at least federal courts — when confronted with arguments as to whether the federal drug laws or the Michigan Act is superior — may be inclined to side with the federal laws. There are several other court cases still pending that involve interpretations of the Michigan Act. We are monitoring them closely.

If you have questions about the pending cases or the Act, feel free to contact Anne Seurynck (616.726.2240) of the Foster Swift Municipal Practice Group.