While most Americans are in favor of reforming marijuana laws across the United States, law enforcement agencies have continued to work diligently with prosecutors to devise underhanded scams that will ensure more people go to prison for weed.
In Michigan, the Komorn Law Firm claims that prosecutors have used the state’s medical marijuana law to tweak their policy on the way THC is recorded in an effort to bump misdemeanor charges for pot possession up to felonies. This update in policy allows the Michigan State Police (MSP) Forensic Science Division policy to treat marijuana edibles and oils, which are currently banned under the state’s medical marijuana program, as a synthetic form of THC—a felony.
“The crime lab is systematically biased towards falsely reporting Schedule 1 synthetic THC, a felony, instead of plant-based marijuana, a misdemeanor, ” attorney Michael Komorn said in a statement.
This devious play to crackdown on the state’s medical marijuana patients was discovered after police arrested 35-year-old Max Lorincz last year at his home in Spring Lake.
According to reports, Lorincz’s wife was experiencing some health difficulties, so he called 911 to get her help. However, when police arrived, they spotted a tiny amount of hash oil inside the residence. Since anything other than raw cannabis is illegal for Michigan medical marijuana patients to possess, Lorincz was charged with possession of marijuana—a misdemeanor.
In court, Lorincz refused to plead guilty to the crime because he holds a valid medical marijuana card. This apparently didn’t settle well with the prosecuting attorney, who soon dropped the misdemeanor charge and substituted it with one for felony possession of synthetic THC.
To make the situation even worse, the state has since removed Lorincz’s 6-year-old son from his home and placed him into foster care.
In a press release sent to High Times, Komorn said he has obtained a number of emails and other documentation from the MSP’s crime lab that proves prosecutors are “relying on the lab to report these substances, so that they can escalate these crimes from misdemeanors to felonies.”
The change in policy, he said, which is likely jamming up other patients throughout the state, is the product of the state attorney general and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan—political forces that Komorn suggests strongly oppose medical marijuana.
Although marijuana is classified a Schedule II drug under Michigan law, one of the emails shows that Ken Steckler with the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan told the state police crime lab that it was not necessary for analysts to understand whether THC is derived from the cannabis plant or if it was synthetically manufactured because he is of the “opinion” that “THC is a schedule I drug regardless where it comes from.”
While a lab is able to determine if a substance is marijuana by the presence of cannabinoids, “I don’t know of any other way to determine that THC was synthesized unless a lab was found and the pre cursor substances to make THC were present,” said Bradley Choate, who oversees the Lansing Controlled Substances Unit.
However, the policy change allows crime labs to report their findings as inconclusive, which is giving prosecutors a green light to file felony charges against people for felony possession of synthetic THC.
“The ultimate decision on what to charge an individual with rests with the prosecutor,” the MSP said in a statement. “The role of the laboratory is to determine whether marihuana or THC are present. Michigan state police laboratory policy was changed to include the statement “origin unknown” when it is not possible to determine if THC originates from a plant (marihuana) or synthetic means. This change makes it clear that the source of the THC should not be assumed from the lab results.”
Komorn argues that state police crime labs are being transformed into “crime factories” by allowing prosecutors to influence the results of official forensics reports. He has since filed a motion with a Michigan court to drop the charges against Lorincz due to a lack of credible evidence and the inability of the crime lab to determine whether the hash oil is plant-based or synthetic.
The revelation of this scandal comes just weeks after it was revealed in a new report that arrests for marijuana possession have increased in Michigan ever since the state passed its medical marijuana law in 2008. The latest data shows that arrests for pot possession have gone up by 17 percent, while the arrest rate for all other crime is down by about 15 percent.