Appeals Court says harvested pot useable in 4 days
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) – How long does harvested marijuana have to dry before it is considered “useable” under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act?
Apparently four days, based on a split decision handed down Friday by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Justices upheld the conviction of a licensed caregiver for having more pot than what’s allowed under the state’s 2008 Medical Marijuana Act.
Alenna Marie Rocafort, 47, sees it differently. Although police seized 5.6 pounds of marijuana during a Sept. 2012 raid, the weight was artificially high because she harvested the pot four days earlier and it was still drying, her attorney argued.
In its 2 to 1 decision, justices sided with a Kent County judge who determined the marijuana was “sufficiently dry” to justify criminal charges.
Justice Cynthia Diane Stephens disagreed; she urged the Michigan Legislature to clarify just how long marijuana needs to dry before it is useable.
The case stems from a Sept. 2012 raid at an unoccupied house in Kentwood where Rocafort grew medical marijuana. Rocafort was a registered patient and caregiver under MMMA with five registered patients, providing medical marijuana to four of them.
Police found 34 marijuana plants during the Sept. 19 raid. She harvested marijuana four days earlier for hash oil, court records show.
An expert witness testified that it takes between 7 to 10 days to dry marijuana after harvest. The defense witness said he did not think the marijuana was adequately dried, and even dried marijuana contains approximately 10 percent moisture content, court records show.
Although the marijuana may not have been ideally dry, a Kent County judge nonetheless ruled it was “largely dried” and therefore allowed the criminal case to move forward. A jury convicted Rocafort more than a year after the raid.
Justices Jane Markey and William Murphy upheld the conviction, finding no errors by the lower court.
“There was no dispute that the marijuana had been drying for four days when it was seized,” they wrote. “The lower court judge was not wrong in concluding the seized marijuana was dried, and thus usable under the MMMA.”
Rocafort in April, 2014 was sentenced to two years’ probation after a Kent County jury convicted her of manufacturing marijuana and maintaining a drug house. She was given an early discharge from probation last April.
In a two-page dissent, Stephens said the evidence did not establish that the 5.6 pounds of marijuana was “dried leaves and flowers.”
“There is a difference between what the Legislature has termed marijuana and useable marijuana,” she wrote. “Testimony differed as to the amount of days required for the marijuana to be dried.
“I acknowledge the difficulty in determining ‘dried marijuana’ when even so-called completely dried marijuana contains 10 percent moisture, but I would also call upon the Legislature for clarification,” Stephens urged.