A group of criminal defense attorneys says the Michigan State Police should no longer oversee the state crime lab. Jake Neher reports.
A group of criminal defense attorneys says the Michigan State Police (MSP) should no longer oversee the state crime lab. “We in Michigan accept the idea we’ve got a Michigan State Police crime lab. That is inherently problematic. But we accept it, because that’s how it is,” said attorney Michael Komorn, who specializes in defending medical marijuana patients.
Komorn and attorney Neil Rockind recently filed a federal complaint against the lab in hopes that it will spark an independent investigation into a new crime lab policy dealing with synthetic THC. The policy instructs crime lab technicians to treat extracts that contain THC as being synthetic. That’s in any case where it is not absolutely clear they came from a cannabis plant. The attorneys claim the policy change is leading to unfair felony charges for patients who would otherwise face misdemeanors.
Komorn uncovered the policy through a public information request and provided the documents to the Michigan Public Radio Network in October. The attorneys say it’s the result of political pressures on the crime lab as a result of being overseen by MSP. “The idea that the police and the lab and the prosecutors are all intertwined and they are one side of the team versus the defendant is inherently a conflict,” said Komorn. He’d like the crime lab to be overseen by another government agency or a private entity.
Komorn is defending a patient who was charged under the policy. He says the state removed the Ottawa County man’s six-year-old son and placed him in a foster home due to the charges. The man faces two years behind bars, twice as long as a misdemeanor charge.