A Michigan man has been living a nightmare. He lost custody of his son after a felony marijuana bust, even though he has a valid medical marijuana card.
Max Lorincz is fighting to clear his name after he was accused of possessing synthetic marijuana. His bizarre case has revealed how politics might influence pot prosecutions in Michigan.
Lorincz claims he suffers from a debilitating back injury. He says when he traded prescription drugs for this edible candy containing marijuana his symptoms got better.
But it was a small amount of hash oil that landed Lorincz in the weeds. Police found it when paramedics came to his house on an unrelated medical emergency. Prosecutors charged Lorincz with a felony after the state crime lab determined his hash oil came from an "origin unknown," implying it is synthetic.
Michigan's medical marijuana law says only leaves and flowers are legal, and concentrates are a crime.
"I've had to go back to the narcotic pain medications, and it's just terrible," said Lorincz.
Lorincz tells Crime Watch Daily Grand Rapids affiliate WXMI as his case wound its way through the system, he was forced to go back on powerful painkillers.
"The doctors are telling me one thing, the judge is saying another, and when I followed my doctor's recommendations, that's when my health started to get better," Lorincz said. "Going back and following what the judge is saying, my health's just been deteriorating ever since."
Max Lorincz says what was worse was losing custody of his 6-year-old boy. In court a social worker testified against Lorincz, saying his use of marijuana, even if it is legal, may make him an unfit parent.
"This is a political decision," said Lorincz's lawyer Michael Komorn.
Komorn claims prosecutors influence the state lab to misreport results so they can get more convictions.
"What is unique about this case is they are relying on the lab to report these substances so they can escalate these crimes from misdemeanors to felonies," said Komorn.
A former lab director says Komorn's claims are true.
"So it was in my experience, it was just a nonstop political game that really got frustrating and it wore down the morale of our staff, and quite honestly it wore me down," said John Collins, a former lab director.
Collins quit his job as director of the state lab after he says he was pressured to produce results that favored the prosecution.
"Our laboratories are not in the prosecution business, they're not in the conviction business, they're in the science business," said Collins.
The Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association is denying those claims from Lorincz and his attorney.
As for Max Lorincz, he's now off the hook. A judge dismissed the felony charge, saying there was no evidence to prove the hash oil was synthetic.
Lorincz and his wife are reunited with their son.
"It's like a hundred pounds has been lifted off my chest," said Lorincz. "It's like our entire life was put on hold the entire time he was gone.
"We'll try and have as many positive memories as we can to make up the gap but there's definitely nothing that makes up for the time that we lost, that's for sure," said Lorincz.