Panel discusses complexities of marijuana laws

LANSING— In an effort to address questions regarding legal implications involved with medical marijuana use, WMU-Cooley Law School and the State Bar of Michigan’s Solo and Small Firm Section teamed up to host a panel discussion on current marijuana laws on July 27. Law students and lawyers gathered on the Lansing campus of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School to hear from a diverse panel of legal experts.

One of the panelists, business attorney Robert Hendricks, expressed how he has adapted to Michigan’s movement toward legalized marijuana. Hendricks and his partners developed a marijuana business practice called CannalexLaw to help support client needs related to the evolving area of marijuana law.

“More and more citizens are becoming more and more aware that there is a disconnect between the laws of prohibition and the reality of marijuana,” Hendricks said. “A lot of this has never been tried before and so there are a lot of grey areas.”

Hendricks encouraged individuals to continue to educate themselves on the complexities of marijuana laws, and stressed the importance of knowing the differences between federal law, state law and ordinances.

“Under current law, marijuana is illegal under federal law … marijuana is also illegal under the laws of the state of Michigan unless you can find a law that allows you to engage in the activity that you want to engage in,” Hendricks said.

Other guest speakers included Mary Chartier, criminal defense litigator and partner for Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C. and Mike Nichols, trial attorney of Nichols Law Firm, PLLC.

Chartier is a criminal defense litigator and partner at Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C., with offices in Lansing and Grand Rapids. She practices in courts throughout the state and in federal court, and has taught at WMU-Cooley Law School for over 10 years, including teaching the nation’s first medical marijuana class.

Nichols is a nationally recognized trial attorney in the area of drunk driving and drugged driving defense. He is the author of the Michigan OWI Handbook for West Publishing, and is a WMU-Cooley Law School professor teaching about drunk driving law and practice. Nichols also authors several publications for organizations including the National College for DUI Defense.