ACLU and Detroit suburb fight medical marijuana battle in court

Jun 14, 2011

A Wayne County Circuit Court Judge has heard arguments in a case that involves Michigan’s medical marijuana law.

The Michigan ACLU is suing the city of Livonia (and two other Detroit suburbs with similar laws) on behalf of Linda Lott, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Lott and her husband want to grow marijuana on property they own in Livonia. But the city passed an ordinance prohibiting any activity that violates federal law.

Michael Fisher, an attorney for the city of Livonia, Fisher says the city has a compelling reason to ban any marijuana-growing operation.

“The experience of other states suggests that crime tends to proliferate around where marijuana is grown or otherwise provided to people. And to law enforcement, of course, a marijuana growing operation looks identical whether it’s legal or illegal.”

The ACLU acknowledges that federal agents could shut down the Lott’s operation if they chose to. But the group argues the voter-approved Michigan Medical Marijuana Act trumps Livonia’s ordinance.

Andrew Nickelhoff is an attorney working with the ACLU. He says the state law is clear that people have a right to grow medical marijuana under specific conditions.

“And Michigan also says that they can’t be prosecuted or punished for exercising that right. Couldn’t be clearer.”

Nickelhoff acknowledges the federal government has the right to prosecute medical marijuana cases if they choose to do so. But their current policy is not to prosecute patients and caregivers who comply with their states' medical marijuana laws.