Feds Want Michigan Records in Medical Marijuana Probe

Federal agents want Michigan to turn over medical marijuana records as part of an investigation in the Lansing area, a sign that voter approval won’t stop federal authorities from enforcing their drug laws.

Michigan voters agreed in 2008 to legalize the use of marijuana in treating some health problems.

But “the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana remains illegal under federal law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruha said in a court filing last week.

The U.S. attorney’s office has asked a judge to order the Department of Community Health to comply with a subpoena for records of seven people with medical marijuana or marijuana caregiver cards. The state has been resisting turning over the information because of a privacy provision in Michigan law, Bruha said. No names or identifying information about the seven are included in court documents, nor are details about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s investigation.

DEA spokesman Rich Isaacson in Detroit wouldn’t comment about the case Monday but said agents generally are “not targeting people that are unambiguously following the state medical marijuana law.”

“The DEA targets large scale drug trafficking organizations and does not expend its resources on individuals possessing ‘user amount’ quantities of illegal drugs,” he said.

The federal government apparently hasn’t been in a rush to get the information: The subpoena was given to the Department of Community Health in June.

More than 45,000 people in Michigan are registered to use marijuana to ease the symptoms of cancer and other health problems. They can have up to 2 1/2 ounces of ready-to-use pot and up to 12 plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. They could also choose to have a registered caregiver grow the drug for them.

Law enforcement officials have panned the law as poorly written, and an appeals court judge has called it a “maze.” The American Civil Liberties Union is suing cities over anti-marijuana policies.marijuana is illegal under federal law, even if Michigan voters approved medical marijuana in 2008.

– Article from MLive.com

Feds seek Michigan medical marijuana documents

by John Agar, The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS – The federal government wants the state Department of Community Health, which oversees the state’s medical-marijuana program, to provide records for seven people under investigation in the Lansing area.

The Department of Community Health hasn’t complied with a subpoena because of potential civil and criminal penalties for violating confidentiality under the medical-marijuana law, court records showed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruha asked a judge to order the state agency comply with the request for information by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigators. He said the DEA on June 4 sought “copies of any and all documents, records, applications, payment method of any application for Medical Marijuana Patient Cards and Medical Marijuana Caregiver cards and copies of front and back fo any cards located for the seven named individuals.”

The state Attorney General’s Office, as counsel for Community Health, was “reluctant” to comply with the request unless ordered to do so by a judge, court records said.

Under the law, Community Health maintains a confidential list of those who have obtained registry identification cards. Disclosure of the information is a misdemeanor.

Bruha said that “the (medical-marijuana law) notwithstanding, the cultivation, possession and distribution of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. … State medical-marijuana laws do not, and cannot, supersede federal laws that criminalize the possession of marijuana.”

He said that a “state-created confidentiality provision … must yield to the enforcement power of the federal agency.”

The DEA said the information is being sought in connection with drug-law violations and “specific and limited in scope.”

The names of those under investigation are redacted in court documents.

The Obama administration says it will not pursue medical marijuana growers who abide by state law.

– Article from MLive.com.