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148444 - People v Hartwick (Richard)

The People of the State of Michigan,
Jeffrey M. Kaelin
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Oakland – O’Brien, C.)
Richard Lee Hartwick,
Nancy E. Miller


Defendant, who was arrested for illegally growing and possessing marijuana, holds a registry identification card under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). He claimed that mere possession of the card entitled him to (1) immunity from prosecution under § 4 of the MMMA and, in the alternative, (2) an affirmative defense under § 8 of the MMMA. The trial court rejected defendant’s theory and instead held that defendant was not entitled to immunity under § 4 and that he had not presented the requisite evidence to make an affirmative defense under § 8. Defendant appealed. In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling. Defendant appealed.
In an order dated June 11, 2014, the Supreme Court granted leave to appeal the November 19, 2013 judgment of the Court of Appeals. The parties were directed to brief the following issues: (1) whether a defendant’s entitlement to immunity under § 4 of the MMA Act (MMMA) is a question of law for the trial court to decide; (2) whether factual disputes regarding § 4 immunity are to be resolved by the trial court; (3) if so, whether the trial court’s finding of fact becomes an established fact that cannot be appealed; (4) whether a defendant’s possession of a valid registry identification card establishes any presumption for purposes of § 4 or § 8; (5) if not, what is a defendant’s evidentiary burden to establish immunity under § 4 or an affirmative defense under § 8; (6) what role, if any, do the verification and confidentiality provisions in § 6 of the act play in establishing entitlement to immunity under § 4 or an affirmative defense under § 8; and (7) whether the Court of Appeals erred in characterizing a qualifying patient’s physician as issuing a prescription for, or prescribing, marijuana.