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155273 - People v Samer Shami

The People of the State of Michigan,
Daniel Corrigan Grano
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Wayne – Glendening, A.)
Samer Shami,
Ali Khalil Hammoud


Defendant is charged with violating the Tobacco Products Tax Act (TPTA), MCL 205.421 et seq., by possessing tobacco products without proper invoices and manufacturing tobacco products without a license. Defendant, who managed the day-to-day operations of a licensed “secondary wholesaler” and “unclassified acquirer” of tobacco under the TPTA, did not have a license as a “manufacturer.” He admitted that he mixed different flavors of hookah tobacco to create a new blend, and that he repackaged hookah tobacco under his own label. The TPTA defines “manufacturer” as “[a] person who manufactures or produces a tobacco product,” MCL 205.422(m), but does not define the term “manufacture.” The trial court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges, holding that defendant’s activities did not constitute “manufacturing.” The Court of Appeals reversed in a published opinion, holding that defendant manufactured a new tobacco product by mixing different flavors to create a new blend. The panel also reinstated the charge of possessing tobacco without proper invoices. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on defendant’s application for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether defendant’s activities of mixing different flavors of tobacco to create different flavor combinations to offer customers and repackaging tobacco under his own label rendered him a “manufacturer” of tobacco under MCL 205.422(m); and, if so, (2) whether the TPTA’s definition of “manufacturer” satisfied due process by putting defendant on fair notice of the conduct that would subject him to punishment.  See People v Hall, 499 Mich 446, 461 (2016).