Monthly Archives: April 2013

ATF says no handguns for Michigan’s medicinal marijuana users

Even if you are not planning on carrying it as a concealed weapon, the law requires you to register your handgun (i.e., a gun other than a rifle). For many years, it has been well-established law that certain individuals are prohibited from having a registered handgun (e.g., a convicted felon, a respondent to a personal protection order, etc.).

In Michigan, it is now legal under state law to possess small amounts of medical marijuana if you have been approved for a medicinal marijuana card. However, marijuana – for medicinal and/or recreational use – is still illegal under federal law. (Controlled Substances Act, 21 USC 802) Pursuant to the federal criminal code (See 18 USC 922), it is also unlawful for “an unlawful user of a controlled substance” to buy or possess any firearm or ammunition.

Although the State of Michigan does not consider medical marijuana cardholders to be “unlawful users” of a controlled substance, the federal government views this issue differently. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) has issued a memo (see link below) advising local state police agencies to deny handgun registration permits to medicinal marijuana cardholders.

So in Michigan, the question for law-abiding citizens becomes which do you give up, your pot or your glock?


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Open Intox on Opening Day


It’s Friday April 5, 2013. Detroit Tigers Opening Day. The first day of Spring at Comerica Park. The weather forecast is great, and no doubt the turnout in downtown Detroit will be huge.

You may think Detroit has bigger issues on its radar than to spoil your fun as a Tigers fan (i.e., the emergency manager and looming municipal bankruptcy). But Detroit hasn’t slipped into a state of total, post-apocalyptic anarchy just yet, so you need to be prepared for what is and what is not lawful conduct during the Opening Day celebration.

Question: Can I get arrested for drinking a beer on a party bus?

Answer: Michigan’s open container (or open intox) law, MCL 257.624a, prohibits the driver and/or passenger of any moving vehicle from having an open alcohol container in the vehicle. However, the law does not apply to a chartered vehicle. But, be prepared that if you step off the party bus with your beer, you are now “possessing or consuming alcohol on a public street.” This is a misdemeanor offense under Michigan law, specifically MCL 426.1915.

Question: Can I be arrested just for being drunk?

Answer: Yes. Illegal, disorderly conduct under Michigan law includes public drunkenness. MCL 750.167(e).

Question: Can I get on the sex offender registry for urinating in public?

Answer: You sure can. Exposing genitals in public (in particular if it is alleged that it is within the view of a minor) can result in a public indecency charge in Michigan. A conviction under the relevant statute can include the penalty of being placed on the sex offender registry.

When in doubt, remember that you have a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney when you are charged with a crime. Before you decide whether to fight your ticket, consult with an attorney. I have practiced in the criminal division of Detroit’s 36th District Court since 1997, successfully representing countless criminal defendants. Our office is available for free consultations by phone, in-office and for jail visits.

Zochowski Law, PLLC: (248) 548-6800


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