Christopher Woodrich

Michigan Court of Appeals Upholds MMJ Law Definitions

Michigan’s Court of Appeals ruled against two men last week who had appealed their drug charges using the state’s medical marijuana laws as their defense. The ruling effectively puts an end to dispensaries in the state and severely limits how patients can obtain medical cannabis.

In 2010, Ryan Bylsma pleaded guilty to a high-court misdemeanor of marijuana possession and maintaining a drug house for his collective grow operation. In 2013, David Overholt was charged with delivery or manufacture of marijuana after his dispensary, Mid-Michigan Compassion Club, was raided by police. He pleaded no contest to those charges.

Both of the Grand Rapids men argued that they acted legally under Section 8 of the medical marijuana law, which allows patients to grow their own cannabis, or for an approved primary caregiver to dispense marijuana to up to five patients. The court ruled that neither man met the Section 8 definition.

In Bylsma’s case, the appeals panel said many of his clients had designated themselves or others as primary caregivers, and that he cultivated marijuana for other non-patient caregivers that did not need medical marijuana.

Matt Hoffman, a self-described expert on Michigan’s medical marijuana industry, calls the law itself “confusing” and says the court’s ruling will push patients into the black market.

“I don’t think that’s the intention of the act, to make people who are law-abiding citizens break the law to access something the law said they could access,” Hoffman said in a WoodTV 8 report.    

Last year a bill providing regulations for “marijuana provisioning centers” passed the state House of Representatives 95-11. It is currently with the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

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