Dodging a Felony with 1,100 Cannabis Plants in Michigan

October 6th, 2023 Legal & Crime
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In a significant ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals, a man, previously accused of cultivating 1,100 marijuana plants without proper licensing and guarded by dogs, will no longer face felony charges. This decision was influenced by a 2018 voter-approved law that prescribes lighter penalties for such offenses.

Shaaln Kejbou had initially faced charges under the state health code, risking a potential 15-year imprisonment for his large-scale operation in Michigan's Thumb area. However, under the 2018 statute permitting the cultivation and recreational use of marijuana, growing such a quantity would only result in a 90-day misdemeanor.

The appeals court, in a unanimous 3-0 verdict, clarified that Kejbou's case is governed by this newer legislation. While acknowledging the potential perception of injustice by licensed marijuana businesses, the court emphasized that any solution should come from the Legislature. This statement was highlighted in the opinion shared by judges Michelle Rick and Kirsten Frank Kelley.

Supporting this decision, a Tuscola County judge had previously dismissed the felony charges against Kejbou. Commenting on the matter, Michael Kemnitz, Kejbou's lawyer, remarked, "The Court of Appeals simply followed the plain language of the statute that was approved by the electorate."

The 2018 law permits adults aged 21 and above to use marijuana recreationally. Individuals can possess up to 12 plants and also purchase marijuana products from state-authorized outlets.

In a related development, Eric Wanink from the prosecutor's office estimated the value of Kejbou's marijuana stash to be around $3.5 million if sold on the black market. Contesting this, Kemnitz acknowledged the illegality of Kejbou's actions but emphasized its non-felony status. He further added that such operations are risky, noting the destruction of Kejbou's entire crop.

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