#122. Dated 4-28-16
A person who smokes marihuana in his or her own car while parked in the parking lot of a private business that is open to the general public is not entitled to assert the immunity or defense provisions of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act
In People v. Carlton, security personnel monitoring live feed cameras of a casino parking lot observed Carlton smoking what appeared to be marihuana inside his car. Police officers responded to the parking lot to investigate. Carlton, a qualifying patient under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), MCL 333.26421 through MCL 333.26430, admitted to the officers that he had been smoking marihuana. The officers observed a marihuana roach on the dashboard and found four bags of marihuana during a subsequent search of Carlton’s car. Carlton was the only person in the car at the time.
In People v. Rea, officers were dispatched to Rea’s house to investigate a noise complaint. Upon arrival, an officer observed the door to Rea’s detached garage open and watched as Rea backed his vehicle “about 25 feet” before stopping at a point in his private driveway in line with his house. Rea then pulled the vehicle back into the garage. At all times Rea’s vehicle was either in his side yard or backyard. (See pictures in the Court’s opinion.) Rea was arrested and charged with operating while intoxicated pursuant to MCL 257.625(1).
MCL 257.625(1) provides in relevant part:
A person . . . shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles . . . if the person is operating while intoxicated.
Before trial, the circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling that “the upper portion of [Rea’s] private residential driveway” does not constitute an area “generally accessible to motor vehicles” as required by MCL 257.625(1) and the prosecution appealed.
Read much more on the Michigan State Police Legal Update link below