GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- The medical marijuana debate is heating up again in West Michigan with prosecutors, judges, and police still trying to determine the ramifications of the Medical Marijuana Act passed by Michigan voters in 2008.
This week, one of the men leading the fight, the founder of the Mid-Michigan Compassion Club in Grand Rapids, was back in court. That’s when a Kent County judge ruled what police would call a dispensary and what the founder calls a club could remain open. It was also ruled founder David Overholt couldn’t go within 100 feet of it.
Overholt’s upcoming trial on marijuana charges could set a new legal precedent for medical marijuana in Michigan.
Assistant Muskegon County Prosecutor Brett Gardner explained that the current precedent of State vs. McQueen ruled that patient-to-patient transfers or caregiver-to-patient transfers of marijuana were in violation of the Medical Marijuana Act. “Caregivers under the law have five patients that they can supply marijuana to,” Gardner said. “If they go beyond that five and supply it to anyone who is not their registered patients, then they open themselves up for not only civil action for a public nuisance but potential criminal charges.”
Overholt argues the ruling was only patient-to-patient specific. “If a caregiver and a caregiver are working together, they’re both legal Michigan caregivers licensed by the state, then the law already tells you that you are immune to prosecution,” Overholt says.
He is challenging charges against hime and says he is fully ready to go to trial, because, if not, the world of medical marijuana cannot survive, he says.
“Without the ability to exchange with other caregivers and to keep enough meds, usable meds, and quality meds in front of their patients, I think the system is doomed to fail,” he said.
One thing both men agree on is that the medical marijuana act is hazy, leaving room for questions and legal interpretation.