OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. – After 16 months of a criminal and family court battle, an Ottawa County Circuit Court Judge dismissed wrongful felony charges against a Spring Lake father and card-carrying medical marijuana patient for having “synthetic THC.”
Friday Max Lorincz was in court for multiple hearings regarding his criminal case, after he was charged with a two-year felony for what the Michigan State Police crime lab depicts as “synthetic THC.” Judge Edward Post ruled that the prosecution did not provide any evidence to prove what Lorincz had was not marijuana; therefore the charge is dropped.
“It’s been a long 16 months, it’s just nice to have it over that’s for sure,” said Lorincz.
“I’m glad it helps anyone else, I mean from the very beginning I haven’t been willing to take a plea deal or anything ‘cause I didn’t do anything wrong. We’ve always medicated properly, and tried to make sure that we’re doing everything right,” he said.
This dismissal has statewide implications for marijuana cases, and potentially puts a stop to erroneous charges of synthetic THC. Several MSP crime lab directors and scientists argued themselves that it is unreasonable to believe synthetic THC would be tested in their labs.
“The judge got it right: the law is very clear on this, and any prosecutor that proceeds under a theory as this office did here is flat-out wrong,” said Attorney Michael Komorn, who represents Lorincz.
“It should be appealed, they should be stopped from doing that. So all defense lawyers should know that it’s an inappropriate charge.”
This dismissal is a huge step for Lorincz, but his life is only partly back to normal as he and his wife continue to fight for custody of their six-year-old son, Dante.
“[My son] has been incredibly happy, having a lot of fun and begs us to come home constantly,” said Lorincz.
“Obviously we can’t give him answers about any of that, but we try to keep him positive, we try to stay as positive as we can.”
Lorincz’s crime lab report showed he had a “smear” amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and then the phrase “origin unknown.” He was charged with a two-year felony for having synthetic pot; a case FOX 17 has been reporting since February 2015. As a result of this charge, Lorincz and his wife lost custody of Dante, and have spent the last 16 months in a separate family court case that has uprooted their lives.
In October, FOX 17 broke Komorn’s allegations that the crime labs’ recent policy change is corrupt. It’s a policy that is accused of targeting Michigan medical marijuana patients with far-reaching affects for Lorincz, who is fighting for custody of his son because of it.
Komorn first accused prosecutors of inappropriately influencing the way the MSP crime labs report marijuana extracts, when plant matter is not visible–like in the case of brownies and oils–as “origin unknown” on the lab report. This statement allows prosecutors the discretion to charge a person with a felony for having “synthetic THC,” instead of having marijuana, which is a misdemeanor.
Komorn, along with Attorneys Neil Rockind and Mike Nichols, filed federal complaints against the MSP crime labs to the National Institute of Justice. Their complaints call for an independent investigation into these allegations that the state crime labs are knowingly misreporting marijuana as “origin unknown,” which again leads to felonies for synthetic THC.
The bottom line, Komorn and others argue, is the crime labs should be dependent of the state police. Emails Komorn obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show a conflict of interest between police, the crime lab, and prosecutors he said.
“The emails tell a story that show there’s a deep conflict of interest, and this case is that example,” said Komorn.
“The emails from this case reflect a non-independent forensic center that is essentially witnesses for the prosecution with the same goal of conviction, not a goal of science and accuracy.”
Friday in Ottawa County Circuit Court, Judge Post heard the defense’s motion to quash Lorincz’s bindover; Daubert hearing; as well as a bill of particulars.
Attorney Karen Miedema with the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, handling Lorincz’s case, declined to comment. Miedema told FOX 17 the prosecution is considering filing one-year misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession against Lorincz.
“We’re going to hope it’s over, we’re going to hope they’re going to re-evaluate their case and end it so we can move on, and Max can move on with his life,” said Komorn.
Here is a series of stories of background on Lorincz’s case:
- Drug felonies without credible proof? Emails spell out allegations of misreporting marijuana in MSP crime labs
- Former MSP Forensic Science Director told FOX 17 he resigned over politicking in labs
- Nov. 5 evidentiary hearing adjourned until Jan. 22
- Medical marijuana battle: Father fights for custody of his son
A permanency planning hearing for Lorincz to regain custody of his son was heard in Ottawa County Probate Court Friday afternoon. Judge Mark Feyen said he was “90 percent” ready to reunite the family going into the hearing, but continued supervised visits until the next hearing which will be set within the next two months.
Officials with the Michigan State Police and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan continue to deny these allegations: that politics influenced the way their crime labs report the origin of marijuana extracts on reports. The MSP has repeatedly denied FOX 17’s requests for interviews.
Stay with FOX 17 for developments on this case.