Cannabis is fully legal in the state of Michigan, both for medical and recreational purposes, but a 79-year-old woman is staring down potential jail time for violating local regulations. According to the Detroit Free Press, Judith Pontius of Ypsilanti Township has gotten into trouble with the local authorities for growing cannabis at her home.
Pontius’ lawyer, Barton Morris Jr. who is the main attorney for the Cannabis Legal Group in Royal Oak, said that his client was growing cannabis for patients, including her daughter and granddaughter, as a registered caregiver. Pontius’ began to grow in 2012, four years after the Michigan Marihuana Act was passed.
That same year the township enacted a new law that barred caregivers from growing cannabis within residential areas. A neighbor’s complaint about the smell led to the township’s awareness over the matter, according to Morris. Ultimately, Pontius and her neighbor came to an agreement with one another and the County’s Sheriff’s Office determined that she was under the limit of legal plants. However, Ypsilanti Township didn’t allow the matter to rest.
“By passing an ordinance that says that Judy has to take her plants into an industrial zone, really they’re just saying she has to stop growing because she can’t afford to take her plants into an industrial zone,” said Morris. Pontius could be held in contempt of court if she doesn’t reach an agreement and the punishment can be up to $7,500 or 93 days behind bars.
Pontius, who Morris Jr. described as “very stubborn,” said that she refused to remove her plants which then led to litigation with the township. The case was taken to Washtenaw County Circuit Court. Judge Carol Kuhnke ruled in Pontius’ favor because of the Michigan Marihuana Act.
The township went to the Michigan Court of Appeals who upheld the decision, though they once again filed to appeal the ruling. Unfortunately, Michigan’s top court said that the cannabis act doesn’t prevent townships from regulating land. The municipality isn’t allowed to prohibit or penalize home cultivation of medical cannabis, nor are they allowed to push unfair regulations. The Court Of Appeals then received the case from the Michigan Supreme Court for revision and reconsideration.
Since then, Judge Kuhnke reversed her stance on Pontius’ home, describing it as a “public nuisance.” Pontius was ordered to get rid of all of her plants except 12 which are authorized for recreational use.
Morris said that registered caregivers like Pontius can grow for six patients. The caregiver is allowed to grow up to 12 plants for each patient. Pontius had 57 plants in total.