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148971 - People v Tuttle (Robert)

The People of the State of Michigan,
Tanya L. Nava
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Oakland – Warren, M.)
Robert Tuttle,
Daniel J.M. Schouman


Defendant was arrested for selling marijuana to a confidential informant of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. He was subsequently charged with the sale and production of marijuana and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm).  Defendant holds a valid registry identification card under the MMMA. He claimed that possession of the card entitles him to (1) immunity from prosecution under § 4 of the MMMA for the charges not relating to the sale of marijuana, and (2) an affirmative defense under § 8 of the MMMA for all the charges. In addition, defendant argued that the testimony of his medical marijuana patients allows him to assert the § 8 affirmative defense. The trial court rejected both arguments and 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 rejected defendant’s arguments and held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it (1) ruled that defendant was not entitled to immunity from criminal prosecution under § 4, (2) denied defendant’s request for dismissal under § 8, and (3) held that defendant could not present the § 8
defense at trial. Defendant appealed.
In an order dated June 11, 2014, the Supreme Court granted the application for leave to appeal the January 30, 2014 judgment of the Court of Appeals. The parties were directed to include the issues to be briefed: (1) whether a registered qualifying patient under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), who makes unlawful sales of marijuana to another patient to whom he is not connected through the registration process, taints all aspects of his marijuana-related conduct, even that which is otherwise permitted under the act; (2) whether a defendant’s possession of a valid registry identification card establishes any presumption for purposes of § 4 or § 8; (3) if not, what is a defendant’s evidentiary burden to establish immunity under § 4 or an affirmative defense under § 8; and (4) 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.