Michigan Town Sued For Banning Medical Marijuana


Katy Batdorff/Grand Rapids Press
Mayor Jack Poll of Wyoming, Michigan, wants to “protect” citizens from medical marijuana. Now, who’s gonna protect ’em from Mayor Poll?
Is this guy your mayor or your daddy? Mayor Jack Poll of Wyoming, Michigan, wants to “protect” citizens from medical marijuana. Now, who’s gonna protect ’em from Mayor Poll?

A resident of the city of has filed suit over the municipality’s intent to ban ban medicinal cannabis within city limits.

John Ter Beek, a retired attorney and former board of education member, said he is licensed to treat pain from his bad back and diabetes with cannabis. He filed suit this week in Kent County Circuit Court, reports Matt Vande Bunte of The Grand Rapids Press.
In the suit, dated Monday, Ter Beek said this month’s City Council decision tramples the rights of Michigan voters who overwhelmingly (63 percent yes) approved medical marijuana at the polls in 2008. The suit also says the decision violates the second article of the state constitution, which guarantees citizens’ right to pass an initiative that amends state law.
Ter Beek said the city’s ban is vague and overly broad, besides.
But Mayor Jack Poll, who thinks he knows better than the voters, claimed the ban shields residents from “possible hazards” of a “poorly written” state law.
“We’re looking to advertise that (Wyoming) isn’t the best place to set up shop (for marijuana),” said former liquor store owner Poll, a pharmacist. “We don’t want it, and we think it would be a detriment to the city.”
“If nothing else, time will be on our side,” the mayor said. “If (the ban) defers (medical marijuana) from the city of Wyoming for any amount of time, then I feel it’s an accomplishment.”
“I’m out to protect our citizens as long as I can,” said the paternalistically condescending mayor.

Paul L. Newby II/Grand Rapids Press
John Ter Beek: “It’s a matter of the city taking away people’s rights”

​Earlier this month, the council claimed public safety concerns about the medical marijuana law, which allows licensed caregivers to grow up to 60 plants and permits patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of dried marijuana.
Ignoring the advice of their own attorney, council members voted unanimously to ban medical marijuana on the grounds it is against federal law. A second reading of the ordinance next month will be required before the ban takes efect.
Ter Beek notes in his suit a White House statement calling for the Department of Justice to pursue only large, for-profit growing operations.
“It’s a matter of the city taking away people’s rights,” he said. “This is the reason I went to law school in the first place. They are willing to throw the (state) constitution under the bus.”
“The only thing I’m seeking is for the court to give us our right, our freedom, that Wyoming has so ignorantly tried to steal from us,” Ter Beek said.
Several other Michigan cities have also enacted bans on medical marijuana. It’s unclear whether any of them have been sued because of it, according to the Grand Rapids Press.
“To the best of my knowledge, there have been no other suits filed,” said Wyoming city attorney Jack Sluiter, who advised the council against the ban because it might cause a lawsuit.
“This is still a Schedule I narcotic that is illegal to possess and grow under federal law,” Sluiter said. “We can try to make this so that it’s not a tremendous financial burden for the city. It depends on how far we have to go.”
Like many other cities, the city of Wyoming is operating under significant budgetary restraints.
Mayor Poll, who is named as a co-defendant in Ter Beek’s lawsuit, said Wyoming might seek financial help from sources such as the Michigan Municipal League, if necessary. The suit could have application to cities across the state, according to Poll.
Voters in all but one Wyoming precinct supported medical marijuana in the 2008 vote.
But of course, Mayor Poll thinks he knows better than the voters. “There was a whole lot of misunderstanding” at the time about the law’s ramifications, the mayor claimed.
“It’s hard to imagine the ordinance not being struck down in court,” said Ed Brayton of independent news network The Michigan Messenger.