Two Michigan pot farmers found themselves in hot water when local authorities discovered 211 plants growing in well-guarded greenhouses on the men's property.
Gerald Duval Jr. and his son, Jeremy Duval, were convicted of drug trafficking, with the elder getting slapped with a 10 year sentence, and his adult son being handed five years in the clink. They appealed their convictions on multiple grounds, but the 6th Circuit Court ruled this week that the two had no right to challenge the court's decision any further.
In their own last ditch attempt at a defense, the two men claimed that they were fully compliant with the state's medical marijuana laws, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), which allowed them to grow the plants. When that didn't work, they claimed that it was their compliance with the state law that eventually got them busted.
Gerald, the father, is registered as a "patient" under MMMA, giving him the legal right to grow up to 12 plants. His son, Jeremy, and his daughter, Ashley, are both listed as "patients" and as "caregivers", giving them each the right to cultivate up to 72 pot plants. 72+72+12 does not equal 211, so that argument went up in smoke. For the record, Ashley was never charged with any crimes.
The men's next line of reasoning was that the investigating officer, Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Ian Glick, was anything but unbiased when he obtained his search warrants. According to the farmers, Glick had previously visited the farm on other matters, and was aware of the pot grow by means other than his current investigation.
The court shot that motion down by backing up Glick's story that it was not he who personally made the previous visits, and that he had no contact with the officers who had been there before, stating in the official ruling: "Glick was not a member of the Office of Monroe Narcotics Investigations (OMNI) when the officers from that unit visited the Duvals in September 2010, he was not present during the visit, and the visiting officers did not speak with Deputy Glick about their interactions with the Duvals."
According the Deputy Glick, it was a confidential informant who ratted on the Duvals, sparking the investigation and revealing the allegedly illegal grow op.
It was during that investigation, Glick says, that he discovered that Jeremy Duval, a registered caregiver with MMMA, had a prior conviction of felony cocaine trafficking - a charge that should have rendered him unqualified for caregiver status in Michigan.
The officers' initial search only turned up 144 plants, exactly 72 x 2, but more anonymous tips brought law enforcement back a second time, when the additional 67 plants were found. Police also uncovered several firearms on the property.
As a last resort, the Duvals attempted to challenge the origin of the warrants themselves. They tried to claim that Deputy Glick should have had to go to a federal magistrate to get the warrants, as opposed to the state magistrate who granted them in this case.
Glick's defense was that he was not sure at the time whether his department would handle the case, or bounce it to the feds, due to Jeremy Duval's sordid history. The court again backed the officer up, stating that Glick's role as a task force agent gave him the leeway to go to either source for the warrant, and that Deputy Glick "exercised this flexibility to apply for and obtain a state search warrant based on Gerald's presumptive violation of state law."
Jeremy Duval's status as a convicted felon on drug charges absolutely prevented him from being a legal "caregiver" under MMMA guidelines. But, he still had every right to be a patient. His patient status would have given him the right to grow up to 12 plants for himself. Added to his father's allowable limit, and his sister's as a legitimate caregiver, the Duval pot farm could still be in operation to this day, had they just followed the rules.