A Michigan man who was forced by police to close his medical marijuana dispensary can still use weed to treat his own condition, a judge ruled Nov. 22.

Kent County Circuit Judge Mark Trusock ruled that David Overholt qualifies as a medical marijuana patient and can continue taking his medicine. Overholt said he uses a cannabis derivative to treat pain from an injury he suffered while serving in the National Guard.

behind-barsTrouble for the 55-year-old Grand Rapids businessman began in March, when police raided his dispensary, the Mid-Michigan Compassion Club. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court ruled that dispensaries aren’t allowed under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

Police said that made Overholt’s collective illegal. In September, he pleaded no contest to manufacture and delivery of marijuana. He was also charged with maintaining a drug house and delivery or manufacture of narcotics, but those charges were dropped in a plea deal with the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

The key to the deal was Overholt’s promise to close Mid-Michigan Compassion Club. In return, he was sentenced on Nov. 7 to two years probation, a $1,000 fine, and 150 hours of community service.

Overholt has said his collective worked with about 30 caregivers, who provided the club with different strains of weed. The club then sold the pot to patients for $10 per gram.

Mid-Michigan Compassion Club shut its doors in late October, after the deal was reached. Overholt’s lawyer filed a motion seeking to preserve his client’s right to continue using medical cannabis. Overholt gave the court copies of his medical records, a doctor’s certification and a letter from his physician.

Trusock said he would enforce the medical marijuana law as long as Overholt could provide proof of his legitimate use of weed.

“This is a law that was passed that I will uphold,” the judge said.

The prosecutor, for her part, said she didn’t like the law but wouldn’t oppose the agreement that allows Overholt to keep toking. Overholt has said he will appeal his conviction so the Medical Marijuana Act can be clarified.

Michigan voters approved medical marijuana at the ballot box in 2008. The law allows patients with debilitating medical conditions to possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot or 12 indoor plants.

But there was ambiguity in the law, and caregiver collectives began opening retail dispensaries across the state. They were tolerated, at least in some places, until the Michigan Supreme Court decision in February. Overholt’s was one of a number of pot shops targeted by police after that ruling.


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