ACLU Sues Birmingham, Among Other Cities, For Banning Medical Marijuana

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan sued the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Livonia today, claiming their ordinances banning medical marijuana are in direct violation of the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA).

According to the ACLU, the lawsuit asks that the city ordinances be declared invalid.

According to the lawsuit, the ACLU is suing on behalf of Birmingham residents Robert and Linda Lott. Linda has suffered from multiple sclerosis for 28 years, is blind and confined to a wheelchair, while Robert was recently diagnosed with glaucoma. Both qualify as patients under the MMMA and are registered as such with the Michigan Department of Community Health. In addition, Robert is registered as Linda’s primary caregiver, allowing him to grow marijuana plants for Linda and himself.

The MMMA allows and provides protection for the medical use of marijuana for patients and their caregivers when used to treat “dehilitating medical conditions,” including multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. The MMMA states that registered patients and their caregivers “shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner” for growing, possessing and using marijuana.

Last year, however, Birmingham adopted an ordinance prohibiting any activity that violates federal law. Since using medical marijuana is still illegal under the federal Controlled Substance Act, the Lotts could be arrested and prosecuted for possessing the drug in her home.

The ACLU press release stated that the federal government typically does not prosecute medical marijuana patients and caregivers if they comply with their state’s medical marijuana law.  In 2008, the MMMA passed by 71 percent in Birmingham.

According to the press release, Lott is also suing the cities of Bloomfield Hills and Livonia for similar ordinances. A member of a private club in Bloomfield Hills, Lott is banned from using marijuana throughout the city. And under its ordinance, Lott’s husband, Robert, is prevented from growing marijuana in a building he owns in Livonia.

According to Birmingham City Commission Mayor Gordon Rinschler, Birmingham adopted its ordinance a little over a year ago not necessarily in response to the MMMA, but as part of the commission’s discussion of the act and its ramifications. Rinschler said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, but said the MMMA is ripe for a challenge.

“The Michigan Marihuana Act has so many problems associated with it, (this) is going just going to have to play out over time,” Rinschler said.

http://birmingham.patch.com/articles/in-brief-birmingham-among-cities-sued-by-aclu-for-banning-medical-marijuana