Six years later, court battle ends over man's medical marijuana co-op

Six years later, court battle ends over man’s medical marijuana co-op

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Ryan Bylsma (left) is pictured with former marijuana dispensary owner David Overholt (John Agar | MLive Media) GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The end for Ryan Bylsma was anti-climatic. A $500 fine for the misdemeanors of maintaining a drug house and possession of marijuana. Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth handed down the sentence Wednesday, June 15 following a six-year legal battle that wound its way to the state’s highest court and back again. Bylsma in September 2010 was running a medical marijuana cooperative grow operation in a Market Avenue building when police raided the operation. Bylsma was growing 24 plants — the legal amount allowed as a medical marijuana caregiver — but others in the building also grew plants. Grand Rapids police seized 88 plants. The state Court of Appeals said the defendants cannot assert the state’s medical marijuana law as a defense at trial. The raid and subsequent charges set off long legal battle that generally involved Bylsma and a former medical marijuana dispensary owner, David Overholt. Bylsma actually pleaded guilty to the two misdemeanors in December 2013, but the ongoing appeals precluded his sentencing. His last court effort failed in May, when the state Court of Appeals ruled the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, approved in 2008, offered no protection against the charges. Judges on the appeals panel said that many of Bylsma’s patients had designated themselves or others as primary caregivers, so Bylsma could not be their primary caregiver. He was also cultivating marijuana for other caregivers who were not patients and thus had no medical need themselves. Bylsma’s case had been at the Supreme Court, where justices ruled against him, but the case came eventually wound up in the Court of Appeals a second time on a different issue. In court Thursday, Bylsma told the […]

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