Fri, 10/30/2015 – 4:11pm
A Michigan medical-marijuana patient claims in court papers that state police crime labs are bending to pressure from prosecutors in analyzing marijuana samples, leading to harsher punishments.
Maxwell Lorincz, 35, was originally charged with a possessions misdemeanor for a small amount of marijuana oil after a Sept. 2014 arrest during an emergency call to his home, according to court papers. He contested the charge, due to his status as a legal medical-marijuana patient. It was dropped in January. But a month later he was charged again – and due to a laboratory finding that the oil could be synthetic THC, it was increased to a felony charge with potential prison time under Michigan law.
Lorincz’s attorney Michael Komorn alleges the lab engaged in perjury, evidence tampering, and even “rampant illegality” in considering the sample synthetic, due to pressure from prosecutors, they contend in the latest court papers filed Oct. 24.
“The Crime Lab was transformed into a Crime Factory which had the direct effect of stripping, in this case Mr. Lorincz, and other patients or caregivers statewide the State authorization to the entitlement to immunity, from arrest, prosecution, or any penalty associated with the medical use of (marijuana),” contends Komorn in the latest motion.
The latest filings, obtained by Forensic Magazine, include emails between lab staff, produced by a Freedom of Information Act request. The emails show that the scientists Michigan State Police Crime Lab found the hash oil was “Schedule I THC” from “origin unknown” – mostly because the analysts contend it showed no visible plant material. Prosecutors then brought the felony charge, based on the finding the THC could be synthetic.
However, the defense attorneys argue that there were multiple other naturally-occurring cannabinoids in the sample which are not psychoactive – and would be pointless to synthesize.
In one of the internal emails, a forensic scientist wrote to his colleagues at the lab that the origin “could not be determined,” and outlined some of the policy repercussions.
“Also, by going out on that limb and calling it THC, you now jump from a misdemeanor to a felony charge,” wrote the analyst. “We’re bringing this up because there seemed to be some concern about uniformity in making these calls.
“Further, it is highly doubtful that any of these Med. Mari. (sp) products we are seeing have THC that was synthesized,” the analyst added. “This would be completely impractical. We are most likely seeing naturally occurring THC extracted from the plant!”
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office did not return calls from Forensic Magazine.
However, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan’s president told local TV station Fox 17 that the allegations against the forensic scientists were groundless.
“Any accusation that the Lab and PAAM are directing lab personnel to report crimes without evidence is untrue,” Michael Wendling, the Association’s President reportedly said in a prepared statement.