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Archie Kiel

Other Michigan 'No Crime' Exonerations
In July 2009, a local weekly newspaper in Northern Michigan published an article about people who grow and sell medical marijuana, featuring a photograph of the marijuana plants at the Rapid City, Michigan home of 48-year-old Archie Kiel, who espoused the benefits of medical marijuana for those suffering from pain.

Two weeks later, on August 13, 2009, officers from the Traverse Narcotics Team, a multi-jurisdictional drug task force, flew a surveillance plane over Kiel’s home and then raided the property. They found about 70 marijuana plants growing in the front yard, in the basement, and on a deck. Kiel contended the plants were legal and produced medical marijuana cards for himself and two others, Heath Ehl and Genevieve Geyer. The officers concluded that he was entitled to have 12 plants for each patient, so they seized all but 36 of the plants.

Kiel was arrested and charged with manufacturing a controlled substance. He was subsequently charged with perjury for allegedly giving false testimony during a preliminary hearing.

Prior to his trial, Keil sought to dismiss the case under a provision of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act which allows for a patient to legally possess marijuana if a physician has determined the patient will benefit from using it. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that four patients—Kiel, Ehl, Geyer and Kiel’s son, Dusty—were legally entitled to possess marijuana because they had identification cards issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Medical Marijuana Registry Program. Based on four patients, Kiel was allowed to have 48 plants, the judge ruled.

The judge rejected Kiel’s claim of a fifth patient, Dorothy Hublick, after finding that Kiel failed to prove that Hublick had filed an application for an identification card prior to the raid.

With a ruling that 48 of the plants were legal, Kiel went to trial in Kalkaska County Circuit Court in July 2010 on the basis that he owned 20 more marijuana plants than were legally allowed based on his approved patients.

The prosecution contended that the Act limits legal use to registered patients only. But Kiel’s attorney claimed that a provision of the Act allows for patients in general—not just registered patients. Under this provision, a medical marijuana supplier is allowed to have no more marijuana than was “reasonably necessary” for any patient as long as the patient has been assessed and approved for marijuana use by a physician. Kiel’s attorney contended that a doctor had signed an application for Hublick which met the requirement and that Kiel did not have more than was reasonably necessary for five patients.

The judge refused to allow Kiel’s attorney to raise this affirmative defense to the charge. On July 16, 2010, the jury acquitted Kiel of perjury and convicted him of manufacturing a controlled substance.

On October 6, 2010, Kiel was sentenced to five months in jail and fined $5,000. He was released after serving 42 days.

In July 2012, the Michigan Court of Appeals set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial. The appeals court ruled that the trial judge had erroneously barred Kiel from presenting the affirmative defense based on patients in general.

On September 26, 2012, the prosecution dismissed the charge.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 7/14/2015
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Sentence:5 months
Age at the date of reported crime:48
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No