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A Better Partnership
August 30, 2012

COA Opinion: A search-warrant affidavit need not establish that a suspect's marijuana-related activities are illegal under the MMMA.

In People v. Brown the Michigan Court of Appeals considered the effect of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) on the 'probable cause' requirement for issuing search warrants. The defendant sought to suppress evidence of his marijuana growing activities that the police recovered while executing a search warrant on his home. The search warrant was issued based on a police officer's affidavit, which described how the officer found a piece of fresh marijuana in the defendant's trash, along with mail confirming the defendant's residence at that address. The officer did not check to see if the defendant was a qualifying patient or primary caregiver under the MMMA. The defendant argued that the affidavit was insufficient to establish probable because the MMMA made it legal to possess and grow certain amounts of marijuana. The Court of Appeals disagreed, reasoning that the MMMA did not abrogate the prohibition against marijuana; it merely provided a 'very limited, highly restricted exception' to the statutory proscription. Therefore, the court concluded that in order to establish probable cause, an affidavit supporting a search warrant 'need not provide facts from which a magistrate could conclude that a suspect's marijuana-related activities are specifically not legal under the MMMA.' The court affirmed the defendant's conviction for manufacturing marijuana.

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