Allegations: MSP falsely reporting marijuana, targeting card-carrying patients

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SPRING LAKE, Mich. – The defense representing a Spring Lake father facing a felony marijuana charge is accusing Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division crime labs of misreporting marijuana intentionally. It’s an allegation with statewide implications.

FOX 17 first reported Max Lorincz’s case in February: He’s a card-carrying medical marijuana patient. He was charged with felony possession of synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for having a smear amount of butane hash oil (BHO).

“If nobody stands up for this and it just keeps going the way it is, how many more people are going to get thrown under the bus just for using their prescribed medicine?” asked Lorincz. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Lorincz said BHO, which is made from marijuana resins, is a prescription he uses for debilitating pain. On an unrelated medical emergency call for his wife, law enforcement found a smear of BHO in his family’s home. Now, in part as a result of the charges, Lorincz has lost custody of his six-year-old son, restricted to supervised public visits for the past several months.

After FOX 17 reported his case, attorney Michael Komorn at Komorn Law PLLC took Lorincz’s case pro bono.

Komorn said MSP crime labs, along with the Mcihigan attorney general’s office and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, changed crime lab reporting policies for reporting marijuana back in 2013. Based on documents and emails received through the Freedom of Information Act, Komorn said state laboratories are falsely reporting marijuana as synthetic THC, essentially turning a misdemeanor charge into a felony.

"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.

First charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession, Lorincz refused to plead guilty because he is a card-carrying medical marijuana patient. According to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, this charge can be dropped through Section 4 immunity, or Section 8 by asserting an affirmative defense.

However, the Ottawa County prosecutor charged Lorincz with felony synthetic THC possession, relying on the state lab report results from his BHO.

According to Lorincz’s crime lab report, technicians deemed his BHO to be "residue, delta-1-Tetrahydrocannabinol, schedule 1," then the phrase, “origin unknown.”

The state lab scientist testified in an earlier April preliminary exam that they could not determine whether Lorincz’s BHO was natural or synthetic. However, the prosecution charged him with felony synthetic THC possession.

"When you have a laboratory that is looking at a substance and reporting it in a way that makes it a Schedule 1 instead of the marijuana they know it is, it's creating a crime,” said Komorn.

“This is a lie,” Komorn said. "We have emails within the state laboratory communications indicating this, that they know it's unlikely, more than unlikely near an impossible, that the patients and caregivers are in a laboratory synthesizing THC. It's not happening, yet they report it as such."

Komorn filed motions in Ottawa County Circuit Court in this case earlier this week. His firm is stating that the crime labs and prosecution are reporting "bogus crimes," turning crime labs into a "crime factory." He stands firm that the prosecution has no credible evidence to charge or convict Lorincz, especially since the state lab scientist testified they cannot prove the substance to be natural or synthetic.

"The lab as far as I'm concerned has lost its integrity,” said Komorn.

“You can't play around with this type of thing and make stuff up and create crimes and be influenced by what the prosecutors want you to do and then come to court, take an oath, and expect to be received as an expert in forensic science. You've lost that."

FOX 17 reached out to Michigan State Police for comment. The MSP public affairs department for the office of the director released this statement to FOX 17:

“The ultimate decision on what to charge an individual with rests with the prosecutor. The role of the laboratory is to determine whether marihuana or THC are present. Michigan state police laboratory policy was changed to include the statement “origin unknown” when it is not possible to determine if THC originates from a plant (marihuana) or synthetic means. This change makes it clear that the source of the THC should not be assumed from the lab results.”

FOX 17 has also reached out to the Michigan attorney general's office and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan for comment.

The motions filed in court are calling for an evidentiary hearing Nov. 5.

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  • Thomas Jefferson

    This is EXACTLY the kind of abuse of authority that our Constitution is supposed to protect us from. But the state Attorney General is nowhere to be found, and the Governor is nowhere to be found, and the Feds, well…they are uninterested in the preservation of rights and would just as soon flush the Constitution, let alone defend it.

    This is why the second amendment exists. So that when our own government turns against us we will be able to defend ourselves. And here we are, with our own government turning against us, the people, who once again voted something into law only to have tyrants tell us that our legally created legislation will not be merely dismissed, but that we will be punished for attempting to live by it.

    This is how the first American revolution began, and it will undoubtedly be how the second one is begun.

    • Thomas Jefferson

      I should point out that when the American Revolution happened, the “Loyalists”, people who acted as tyrants for the crown and betrayed the people (much like the Ottawa County Prosecutor, the MSP as an organization/arm of the state, and the do-nothing state AG and governor are doing now), were not treated very well. They were considered traitors, their personal property was confiscated, they were tarred and feathered, publicly humiliated, tried and convicted of treason, and even executed.

      Repetition of history is neither progress nor advancement. It is regression, and that is never desireable. But an America in which the law enforcement body stops serving the people and instead turns against the people would be worse, and should never be allowed to happen. Not at the national level, not at the state level, not at the municipal level, not at ANY level. I urge these neo-Loyalists to grow up. I urge them to set aside the political aspirations and megalomania, to abandon the lure of special interests, and to do their jobs as public SERVANTS. I urge them to do what they are told to do by the people, according to the laws the people establish. I urge them to accept the will of the people as their own, as elected officials in a democracy are supposed to do. Only then can the repetition of history be avoided. Only then can we move forward as a state and as a country.

    • Jimmy Perry

      This is the main effect of prohibition it corrupts law enforcement at all levels. Calling it a war on drugs is a lie it is a war on the american people started by R.M. Nixon. May he rot in hell.

  • Snowman231

    Bho is not a legal substance. It’s a byproduct and the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on this. Why can’t people stop blaming the system for their screw ups. I don’t agree with the ruling and it doesn’t matter if sometime this year it changes right now it’s not legal. There is still 5-15% butane still in the product even if done with a distiller at least wait till its regulated so it’s clean

    • Greg

      Won’t you please give us your source that says the Supreme Court ruled that chemical extracts are not legal? How are they not a “preparation thereof,” and subsequently disallowed under the law? Are they not constituent parts of the dried leaves and flowers?

  • M_in_Oregon

    Besides the general ridiculousness of cannabis prohibition in the first place, what strikes me as really absurd here is that they are calling synthetic THC a felony, and schedule 1 drug, when synthetic THC is exactly what is in Marinal, which I believe is not a schedule 1 drug…

    Makes about as much sense as saying cannabinoids have no medicinal value…

    • Ambrose Bierce

      BHO isn’t synthetic, it is a concentrated extract derived from plant material. Marinol, the FDA/DEA approved synthetic analogue of the “primary intoxicant” in Cannabis, D9THC, a Schedule 3 drug (doc can write for 5 refills) is a 100% THC product that has been on the market since 1985. Why couldn’t the lab run a GC/MS? I thought that was used to determine if a legit Marinol prescription holder wasn’t augmenting their “diet” with some of that Devil Weed.
      Anyway, that this poor soul is being abused (only “abuse” going on in this confused tale) for a substance (even if “synthetic”) so “dangerous” that Marinol was moved from Schedule 2 (meth & cocaine) down to Schedule 3, in `09. The patient inert only instructs the patient to understand and accommodate for the “effects” of the medication before driving or operating machinery “under the influence” (hey, good enough for the FDA/DEA, yes?). Having been on the market for 30 years, one would think that there’d have been at least a few “horrors” to “report” about Marinol “abusers” out wrecking the world but, kind of like that big Zero on the CDC’s website listing fatalities from the use of Cannabis, alone – we’ll all keep waiting, and waiting, for some to appear – and this poor gentleman will have tax dollars heaped on him by the prosecutor in the form of a stay in ClubMI, where he can wait, as well, in pain, for some form of sanity to prevail.

  • Charles

    How many false arrests and false imprisonments are the attorney’s office and police crime labs guilty of? They should really throw the book at public officials who abuse the public trust like this. Particularly those who have the power to arrest, imprison and seize property. I would suggest 2-3yrs in prison for each individual they falsely charged. Others had to know about this. May be a good RICO case. Great opportunity for the FBI to protect our citizens.

  • Nic

    That’s how they get you, charge you with a ridiculous felony so you will please guilty to a lesser charge. Our law’s, and how prosecutors use them is a lose lose situation for defendants.

  • Paul Miller

    This is only part of that the State Police and the State Attorney General have been doing! They are raiding medical marihuana shops, stealing all their medication and cash or stuff they can auction off, then offering half your money back for legal fees if you sign off to let them keep the rest with no contest! This is extortion! They are lining their coffers before the confiscation laws change. Cost me $29,000.00 to plead out to a misdemeanor!

  • William Clark

    I favor the MILegalize petition. Please visit its website and contribute to its campaign fund.

    Michigan is a Right to Farm State. If your land is suitable and you raise crops according to State standards, you may compete in the State’s open market. I’d say legalize marijuana but don’t corporatize it. Never interfere with patients’ rights to grow their own. And tell the police to take a hike. They are addicted to profiting from Michigan’s antiquated, unconstitutional forfeiture law. Their reps have repeatedly hijacked lawmakers’ votes to fine-tune the MMMA, by showing up ‘en masse’ and playing ‘tough cop’ in legislators’ offices just before a vote.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” –John Erlichman

    Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011 a study at the University of Colorado found that, in the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly nine percent—now nearly ten percent in Michigan—more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent. No wonder Big Alcohol opposes it. Ambitious, unprincipled, profit-driven undertakers might be tempted too.

    In 2012 a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as “the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving”, which “is arguably a positive thing”. Despite occasional accidents, eagerly reported by police-blotter ‘journalists’ as ‘marijuana-related’, a mix of substances was often involved. Alcohol, most likely, and/or prescription drugs, nicotine, caffeine, meth, cocaine, heroin, and a trace of the marijuana passed at a party ten days ago. However, on the whole, as revealed in big-time, insurance-industry stats, within the broad swath of mature, experienced consumers, slower and more cautious driving shows up in significant numbers. Legalization should improve those numbers further.

    No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s the most benign ‘substance’ in history. Most people—and particularly patients who medicate with marijuana–use it in place of prescription drugs or alcohol.

    Marijuana has many benefits, most of which are under-reported or never mentioned in American newspapers. Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana is a neuro-protectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. Research in Spain (the Guzman study) and other countries has discovered that it also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

    Drugs are man-made, cooked up in labs, for the sake of patents and the profits gained by them. Often useful, but typically burdened with cautionary notes and lists of side effects as long as one’s arm. ‘The works of Man are flawed.’

    Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. “Cannabis” in Latin, and “kaneh bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair. Why despair? Consider the current medical term for cannabis sativa: a “mood elevator”. . . as opposed to antidepressants, which ‘flatten out’ emotions, leaving patients numb to both depression and joy.

    The very name, “Christ” translates as “the anointed one”. Well then, anointed with what? It’s a fair question. And it wasn’t holy water, friends. Holy water came into wide use in the Middle Ages. In Biblical times it was used by a few tribes of Greek pagans. But Christ was neither Greek nor pagan.

    Medicinal oil, for the Prince of Peace. A formula from the Biblical era has been rediscovered. It specifies a strong dose of oil from kaneh bosom, ‘the fragrant cane’ of a dozen uses: ink, paper, rope, nutrition. . . . It was clothing on their backs and incense in their temples. And a ‘skinful’ of medicinal oil could certainly calm one’s nerves, imparting a sense of benevolence and connection with all living things. No wonder that the ‘anointed one’ could gain a spark, an insight, a sense of the divine, and the confidence to convey those feelings to friends and neighbors.

    I am appalled at the number of ‘Christian’ politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.

  • John

    Ive seen people clean their pipe and be charged with synthetic oil when it was just the resin build up from the pipe. And on the police report it said “based on visual inspection it is synthetic” this craziness needs to stop.

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