Last week, Dr. Ruth A. Buck, who owns Saginaw-based Mid-Michigan Medical Marijuana Clinic was indicted by the U.S. Attorney General’s office for “aiding and abetting the distribution of marijuana.” This came after a March 17th raid on her home and office.
According to attorney Matthew R. Abel, an attorney with Detroit’s Cannabis Council, Buck may be the first to be so charged. “There have not been any doctors charged with crimes that I am aware of since the (state) law began,” Abel said to the press. “It’s unconscionable that doctors are being incarcerated.”
President Obama has promised that federal authorities won’t be enforcing the government ban on marijuana use or distribution in states like Michigan where use of the drug is allowed for medicinal reasons, but these federal charges are on top of three state counts of “unlawfully distributing controlled substances.” Those charges, however, had nothing to do with marijuana. Instead they were related to Buck having prescribed 1.5 million doses of painkillers like methadone, morphine, OxyContin and Vicodin.
The federal, complaint, on the other hand, alleges that 1,870 medical marijuana certifications were issued by Dr. Buck between the time the state law passed in 2009, and March 17th, and further claims that she was authorizing the use of cannabis in cases that weren’t debilitating. Under Michigan’s medical marijuana laws, patients must be suffering from a debilitating or chronic condition in order to qualify for the drug.
Attorneys representing Dr. Buck will be claiming that she was operating within the parameters of the law.
It will be interesting to watch this case as it unfolds, and personally, I’m uncertain about who is right or wrong here. On the one hand, I believe the feds need to focus on real criminals, not medical marijuana providers. On the other hand, any abuse of existing medical marijuana laws is only likely to cause further setbacks to making pot completely legal.