In 2008, an overwhelming majority of Michigan voters approved legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use in the state.
With nearly 50,000 Michigan residents arrested and incarcerated each year for controlled substance violations, the state’s prison industrial complex was expected to a financial hit after the legalization of medical marijuana.
As enacted by 63 percent of Michigan voters, the Medical Marijuana Act directed police to stop wasting the state’s limited financial resources on arresting and locking up sick people for smoking pot.
But Michigan cops had a better idea. In October, police quietly changed a policy on how marijuana is tested at the state crime labs. The new policy allows medical marijuana users to be falsely charged with felony possession of a controlled substance.
While medical marijuana that is obtained from a marijuana plant can be legally obtained and used by patients who have a doctor’s prescription in Michigan, it is illegal for anyone to possess or use synthetic marijuana in the state.
As reported by Michigan Radio, the new state crime lab policy allows legal marijuana users to be charged with a crime they did not commit. The new policy,
“instructs crime labs to treat extracts that contain THC as being synthetic. That’s if it is not absolutely clear they came from a cannabis plant. That opens people to felony charges as opposed to misdemeanors.”
The new policy clearly puts the burden of proof on the accused, rather than on the state. It also directs the crime lab to operate under an unconstitutional assumption of guilt.
Internal documents obtained through a freedom of information request show that some crime lab technicians vehemently opposed the changes. Among those who protested the changes from inside the agency was Lansing Crime Lab Controlled Substances Unit Supervisor Bradley Choate.
Choate wrote in an email to colleagues,
“This could lead to the wrong charge of possession of synthetic THC and the ultimate wrongful conviction of an individual. For the laboratory to contribute to this possible miscarriage of justice would be a huge black eye for the Division and the Department.”
“The Michigan state crime lab systematically is reporting false results, the prosecutors then can go charge people with felonies they didn’t commit. In fact, that’s what they’re doing.”
Frazier went on to say that the new policy “contaminates and taints the very reliability and credibility of the police lab.”
Charmie Gholson, founder of Michigan Moms United, a medical marijuana advocacy group, told Michigan Radio,
“Michigan taxpayers are paying for these trumped up charges. They’re paying for the investigations. They’re paying for the prosecutions of Michigan families with no criminal intent who believed that the state was going to protect them.”
The new policy clearly violates the United States Constitution which protects the rights of the accused, and places the burden of proof on the state.
Should we surprised by that? The multi-billion dollar for profit prison industry peddles its influence through every level of government. It’s an industry that thrives off the incarceration of other human beings. According to the tenants of the corporate Bible, otherwise known as the Friedman Doctrine, the only ethical responsibility any corporation has is to ensure that its shareholders do not lose money.
Police and public officials no longer work for the people. Our tax dollars may pay their salaries, but their job is not to serve and protect us. Their job is to keep the private prisons full of young, able-bodied workers. Whether the people they arrest and incarcerate are guilty or innocent is of no consequence to them whatsoever.
Author: Randa Morris December 12, 2015 10:18 am