City of Dearborn dismisses marijuana charges against HIV-positive woman after more than a year

Video exposes police officer making discriminatory remarks during traffic stop

For information, contact Joshua Moore, 313-412-1942

DEARBORN – On Sept. 26, 2013, the city of Dearborn dismissed a misdemeanor marijuana charge against Detroit resident Shalandra Jones, after a year of court battles. The move came during a final pretrial hearing in the case.

Jones is, and was at the time of the incident, a qualified medical marijuana patient under Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). Despite this, Dearborn Police Officer David Lacey issued a marijuana possession ticket, a police video revealed, to Jones because she failed to disclose her HIV-positive status to him prior to a search of her car during an August 2012 traffic stop. Legal experts agree, Jones was not obligated to disclose her status to the officer.

The incident made national headlines in September 2012 when The American Independent News Network obtained the video. In the recording, the officer can be heard telling Jones “Honestly, if it wasn’t for [your HIV status], I don’t think I would have wrote anybody for anything. But that kind of really aggravated me, you know what I mean? You got to tell me right away, ‘I’ve got this. I’ve got that.’ ‘Cause at that time, I wasn’t wearing any gloves.”

The city pursued criminal charges against Jones despite her proof of defense under Section 8 of the MMMA. Lawyers involved in the case said the city offered to dismiss the case if Jones would waive her right to sue the city for violating her civil rights.

“This is probably the longest case I’ve been involved in,” said Paul Spaniolo, one of two attorneys who handled the case. “[Jones] followed the law to the ‘t.’ She couldn’t have followed it any better.”

The case involved more than 10 hearings, including an appeal to the Circuit Court on the MMMA defenses, which a District judge originally refused to acknowledge.

Joshua Moore of Detroit Legal Services is also representing Jones and he says his client will file a civil action against the city for violating her civil rights.