I get asked by folks all the time whether they will be permitted to use medical marijuana while they are on probation or while they are on bond with a criminal matter pending. Many of these individuals have found that medical marijuana is effective in treating chronic pain as an alternative to other prescription drugs, such as opiates, with less harmful side effects. Others suffer from debilitating health conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy, and medical cannabis eases their tremors and nausea. Veterans in particular have found medical cannabis to be effective treatment for their chronic pain and for post-traumatic stress disorder. Knowing whether a patient can continue to use their medicine while they are on bond or on probation makes a tremendous difference in crafting a defense strategy and evaluating plea offers.
So, can you use medical marijuana while you are on bond or probation? Unfortunately, there’s no bright line answer to this question at this time. Like so many other questions in the law, the answer depends largely on the facts and circumstances of the particular case. The Michigan Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion in January 2017 in People v Magyari ruling that a judge may deny medical use of marijuana on probation if the judge finds that marijuana use is reasonably related to the offense or the defendant’s rehabilitation. Mr. Magyari had been convicted of an alcohol-related driving offense, but the judge stated that Mr. Magyari’s offense was indicative of a larger substance abuse problem in denying Mr. Magyari’s request to use medical marijuana while on probation. It is important to note that unpublished opinions of the Court of Appeals are not considered binding precedent, so the law is still subject to change in this area. If the charges involved are related to use of alcohol or a controlled substance, often a judge will deny a request for medical marijuana use—despite the fact that marijuana use is not habit forming and may be an effective treatment for heroin and opiate addiction.
Many judges in Michigan see the benefits of medical marijuana and will permit its use for those on bond or on probation. However, other judges are more reluctant to permit medical marijuana use. Unfortunately, the criminal stigma attached to marijuana is a challenge to overcome. Americans’ attitudes on marijuana legalization are changing rapidly, and a new poll suggests that 61% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana—even for recreational use. If you have been charged or convicted of a crime, an experienced medical marijuana attorney can assist you in presenting in educating the judge to overcome the criminal stigma attached to marijuana and present an effective case to ensure that you can continue treatment.
A well-prepared motion will need to be filed to argue to the judge that medical marijuana should be permitted while you are on bond or on probation and then a hearing will be held. Obtaining medical certifications and testimony from a treating physician that describe why medical marijuana is an effective treatment will go a long way in persuading an otherwise reluctant judge. Medical testimony that shows the benefits of medical marijuana over other treatment options, such as opioids, is particularly compelling.
If you are a medical marijuana patient facing criminal charges or are on probation, you need an experienced medical marijuana attorney on your side to fight for your rights. At Grewal Law PLLC, we understand that your health and quality of life can be directly implicated if your access to medical cannabis is interrupted. Contact our office today for a free consultation.
An associate attorney with Grewal Law PLLC in Okemos, Michigan, John Fraser focuses on general litigation, criminal defense, cannabis law, and appellate law. John is also an adjunct professor of law at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School where he teaches a course on Medical Marijuana and the Law.