Neil Rockind in the News | The Oakland Press, Commentary on Midland County Medical Marijuana Decision
Neil Rockind, criminal defense and medical marijuana defense trial lawyer, is frequently called upon to discuss to offer expert commentary on current events and developments in the law. Neil Rockind was recently quoted in an article in The Oakland Press and Daily Tribune regarding a Midland County judge’s opinion that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is unconstitutional, a finding that Rockind disagrees with. Here is the article:
A Midland County judge’s recent ruling that the state’s medical marijuana act is unconstitutional has Oakland County medical marijuana supporters and detractors speculating on what may come next.
The opinion, written by Midland County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Lauderbach, addresses two separate cases involving probation conditions and the use of medical marijuana.
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[The] reference to the two governments going head to head springs from Lauderbach’s opinion, where he wrote that the courts are bound by the Supremacy Clause — guided first by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.
That means, he concluded, even if defendants prove they are seriously ill and use medical marijuana to ease symptoms, Lauderbach stated the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act — passed by voters in 2008 — is unconstitutional and “therefore must be declared to be ‘without effect,’ ” according to his opinion outlined in a story in the Midland Daily News.
This sets up the possibility of the Michigan Court of Appeals weighing in on medical marijuana, said [another commentator]. Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said this opinion validates Oakland County law enforcement officials’ position on medical marijuana. “(The opinion says) the same thing we have been saying,” she said. In the past, county prosecutors have said distributing marijuana is against federal law. “I find (the opinion) interesting. Across the state, every time (medical marijuana cases) get into court and you see court analysis, you’ll see they look at the statute very narrowly.” She believes the Midland situation is “one more piece” in the overall medical marijuana discussion.
The issue in Midland involved two defendants — Jonathon Murray Finney, 29, and Todd Alan VanWert, 46, both of Midland — who were sentenced for offenses including marijuana possession. The court ordered the men, who both said they were qualified to use marijuana, to stay away from marijuana.
[A source of information] said 15 states and the District of Columbia which have legalized marijuana on some level.
If the act is deemed unconstitutional in Michigan, “I believe we are going to see similar challenges in other states,” said [the source of information].
Cooper said she believes it will take another two years before medical marijuana cases “wind their way to the Michigan Supreme Court” and before there is a “definitive statement” on the act here.
Neil Rockind, an attorney currently defending medical marijuana patients in Oakland County courts, said other states with medical marijuana laws have dealt with the state-versus-federal law question.
“In California this issue was addressed, decided, appealed and reaffirmed and each and every time it was concluded the state’s medical marijuana act and the federal controlled substance law can operate together,” he said, adding even Congress has said the federal substance acts do not pre-empt state medical marijuana laws.
“This (Midland) decision is only going to complicate things. I believe the Midland judge made an error, and (his decision) is going to be reversed.”
Neil Rockind is a highly acclaimed criminal defense trial lawyer. He was named the Best in Detroit by Hour Magazine, a Top Lawyer by DBusiness Magazine, a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by a national trial lawyers association and a Super Lawyer. Give us a call to see what Neil Rockind and Colin Daniels, Esq. can do for you or a loved one.