Written By Emily Gray Brosious
Posted: 10/30/2015, 12:40pm
Crime lab accused of helping prosecutors unlawfully slap medical marijuana patients with felony possession charges
An attorney is accusing Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division crime labs of falsifying marijuana lab reports under a new lab policy that allows prosecutors to charge medical cannabis users with felonies they did not commit, according to a press release from the Law Firm of Michael Komorn and published by The Weed Blog.
Komorn says prosecutors told scientists to report an unknown origin for THC contained in marijuana products with no visible plant material – like concentrates, oils and waxes. The substance would then be declared synthetic THC rather than marijuana, which turns a misdemeanor marijuana charge into a felony charge, as reported by MLive.
“The crime lab is systematically biased towards falsely reporting Schedule 1 synthetic THC, a felony, instead of plant-based marijuana, a misdemeanor,” Komorn said.
Komorn’s discovery stems from a client he represents in Ottawa County, Max Lorincz, who faces two years in jail for synthetic THC charges, and whose 6-year-old son has been placed in foster care due to the charges.
Komorn says his client was initially charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. When Lorincz would not plead guilty because he’s a registered medical marijuana user, the prosecutor withdrew the original charge and recharged him with felony synthetic THC possession, relying on the state crime lab report to do so, according to FOX 17.
“What is unique about this case is that they [the prosecution] are relying on the lab to report these substances so that they can escalate these crimes from misdemeanors to felonies,” said Komorn.
Komorn used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain numerous emails from state police crime lab workers, some raising concern about the way they had to report THC cases. Others testified in court about the new policy of denying evidence of THC coming from a marijuana plant if no material is found.
He contends that the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM) and state Attorney General Bill Schuette, an opponent of medical marijuana, influenced state police policy.
“It is scandalous, scandalous. How can you trust the state lab when they are influenced by politicians?” he said.
The Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan’s President Michael Wendling told FOX 17 that the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division sets its own crime lab testing and reporting policies, and “neither PAAM nor county prosecutors make those protocols.”
A hearing in Lorincz’s case is set for Nov. 9, according to MLive.