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ACLU adds Wyoming to its list of medical mariuana lawsuits

John Ter Beek
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
John Ter Beek says, "The fact is medical marijuana helps people; it’s helped me"

The ACLU has filed lawsuits on behalf of medical marijuana users in the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Livonia after those cities effectively banned medical marijuana.

Now add the city of Wyoming to the list of cities being sued by the ACLU. The ACLU said it will represent John Ter Beek "a medical marijuana patient who fears being penalized by local officials if he grows or uses medical marijuana in compliance with state law."

The Wyoming city council unanimously passed a ban on medical marijuana earlier this month.

In a statement released today, Michael Nelson, ACLU of Michigan cooperating attorney said:

“It’s disappointing that elected officials in the City of Wyoming are so quick to ignore the will of the people who overwhelmingly voted for compassionate care for patients like John whose pain is eased by the use of medical marijuana. Our goal is to uphold the rights of patients and caregivers who have done nothing wrong, but are treated like criminals by local officials.”

The ACLU says the lawsuits ask that the city ordinances be declared invalid and unenforceable against medical marijuana patients and caregivers who comply with the state law.

In the ACLUs amended complaint for John Ter Beek, it states:

Based on the advice and written certification of his primary care physician, plaintiff found marihuana to be more effective in relieving his severe and chronic pain and preferable to various narcotic drugs.

John Ter Beek has been a qualifying patient in the state’s medical marijuana program for a year and a half. A doctor recommended medical marijuana for pain because of neuropathy – a nerve disorder associated with diabetes. "It alleviates a lot of that pain, you know? So I’d rather do that than get on a Vicodin script and get hooked on something like that," Ter Beek said, "I’m very leery of pills; I don’t like them.”

Ter Beek is an attorney. He filed a lawsuit against the Grand Rapids’ suburb of Wyoming before they adopted a ban on medical marijuana earlier this month.

Earlier this month, Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll joined fellow elected leaders in a unanimous vote for the ban. That’s despite the ACLU informing city officials beforehand the organization would consider legal action.

“I’ll sleep just fine tonight because I’ve made a decision on which I make all my decisions– what I feel is best for the citizens of Wyoming and that’s where I stand.”

Poll, a pharmacist, says he's not against medical marijuana, but takes issue with the way it is distributed. He does not anticipate the legal case will be a big cost for the city because there are other cities defending the case.

“Where this case may go? I don’t know, I don’t know. But am I willing to spend some money as the mayor? Yes I am because it has to do with public safety. And it’s one of those pay me now, pay later, type situations. If we don’t solve the problem today – what’s our problem going to be in the future.”


(you say "marihuana," I say "marijuana")

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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