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Forensic science lab pressured by law enforcement to falsify marijuana THC test results

Medical marijuana

(NaturalNews) Attorneys and advocates of medical marijuana are accusing the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division of wrongly classifying origins of THC – the active ingredient in pot, found in hash oils and marijuana edibles – as "origin unknown."

As reported by The Intercept, Michigan prosecutors used the ambiguous classification to charge users of medical pot for possession of synthetic THC, even though personal use of medical marijuana was approved by voters in that state in 2008. Under state law, possession of synthetic THC is a felony, whereas possession of marijuana and its various forms by someone not licensed to use medical pot is classified as a misdemeanor.

Evidence of the mistaken classifications were contained in a series of emails obtained by Michael Komorn, the lead attorney for Max Lorincz, a medical pot user who lost custody of his child after facing felony charges stemming from misclassification of hash oil police found in his home.

"I'd never seen a lab report reporting origin unknown," Komorn told The Intercept. "What was produced for us was the most unbelievable set of documents I've ever seen."

'Of course not'

The Intercept further reported:

"The emails show that as Michigan forensic scientists debated how to classify oil and wax produced from marijuana plants, they were pressured by police and prosecutors to classify the products in a way that would facilitate harsher drug convictions."

Forensic scientist Scott Penabaker wrote in May 2013, "It is highly doubtful that any of these Med. Mari. products we are seeing have THC that was synthesized. This would be completely impractical."

In February 2014, the Lansing, Michigan, controlled substance unit supervisor, Bradley Choate, wrote in an email, that a misleading THC designation "could lead to the wrong charge of possession of synthetic THC and the ultimate wrongful conviction of an individual," The Intercept reported, citing the documents.

John Bowen, a lab inspector, agreed, according to the email documents. He wrote in reference to the THC in edibles and oils, "Is it likely that someone went to the trouble to manufacture THC and two other cannabinoids, mix them up, and bake them into a pan of brownies? Of course not."

Nevertheless, Andy Fias, a lieutenant with the state police's West Michigan regional drug task force, observed in an email to the Forensic Science Division in January 2015, "We are encountering a significant amount of THC wax and oil. If we were to seized [sic] the wax/oil from a card carrying patient or caregiver and it comes back as marijuana, we will not have PC [probable cause] for the arrests."

Citing the documents, The Intercept noted that Fias indicated he had heard that forensic analysts were classifying some found oil as marijuana instead of THC.

"Is there a way to get this changed?" he wrote. "Our prosecutors are willing to argue that one speck of marijuana does not turn the larger quantity of oil/wax into marijuana."

Authorities saw it differently

The Intercept noted further:

"On September 24, 2014, Lorincz called 911 from his Spring Lake, Michigan, home when his wife experienced an emergency. 'The paramedics came in to assist my wife, and while they were assisting my wife the sheriff came in from the outside,' the 35-year-old father told me. It was then that the officer discovered hash oil on the kitchen counter. 'The whole thing is ridiculous,' said Lorincz, who at the time possessed a Michigan medical marijuana card. 'I didn't commit any crime.'"

But obviously cops and prosecutors did not see it his way. The Ottawa County Prosecuting Attorney's office, led by Ronald Frantz, filed charges against Lorincz for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. But rather than cop a guilty plea, Lorincz decided to fight the charges on the grounds that his medical marijuana card permitted him to possess the hash legally.

Prosecutors responded in February by ramping up the charge to possession of synthetic THC – a felony. And because the state crime lab did not specifically determine where the THC content came from, prosecutors were able to say the oil was not made from marijuana.

Read the full, disturbing report here.




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