My name is Sylvester Vanderbutts. I am a resident of Howard Township, Cass County, Michigan. I began chemotherapy in 2005 for Stage 4 lymphoma cancer. I began a second chemotherapy treatment for chronic hepatitis C. I have Type 1 diabetes due to surgeries to remove tumors, and I take insulin shots daily. I have been diagnosed as having bipolar depression. I am very ill and also have an ulcer in my stomach. I have suffered a great deal of stress from the ordeal with the authorities in Cass County. I will have to go through more chemotherapy in the future.
When I found out that Proposal 1 to legalize medical marijuana passed in the state of Michigan, I began growing my own plants and at the same time notified my physician about what I would like to do in order to counteract the effects of chemotherapy. The doctor agreed with the treatment and said that he would be glad to sign documentation, but he couldn’t prescribe as there were no prescriptions for it. Once the Proposal passed, I began using the marijuana treatment. It alleviated my pain without pain medication. It also relieved my nausea without further medication. The medications bothered me. I don’t take medication well. It was causing stomach upset and that is why I think I have this ulcer.
Everything was ok; my plants were growing. Plants take about four months to grow. On August 8, 2009 I went to the Medical Marijuana Expo in Detroit, and when I returned home, a neighbor said he saw two strangers in the middle of the night trying to jump my fence. I believe they were looking for marijuana. It may have been the Michigan SWET team.
They put out a warrant for my electric bill, and at a later date, they had another warrant for a helicopter to hover over my house using infrared.
I never sold any marijuana to anybody. I never gave it to anybody. I was growing it for my use and to be a caregiver for five other patients. I had 42 plants total, two mothers, 15 clones. I wasn’t able to provide anyone else with the marijuana because the plants weren’t ready. I had just enough for my own continuous use. At that time, that is when the police raided my home. My card was issued on August 29, 2009 and the police raided my home on September 14, 2009. I was arrested and placed in the Cass County Jail. I had to pay a bonds lady $2,500 to get out of jail. I went back home. I had to get a ride from the bonds lady because the police confiscated my 1997 S-10 step side pick up. They also took $2,750 cash from under my bed in my safe, which was my social security money. They also took all my tax records and my computer, and my cell phone, my checkbooks and all other documentation. I have not been able to file my taxes because of it. They are attempting to get my home. This house has been in my family for over 40 years.
I feel that they are attempting to try me as a drug dealer, when, in fact, I am a patient using medical marijuana for my illness to alleviate all the pain and nausea.
After I hired an attorney, this went to District Court to Judge Stacey Rentfrow and she ended up sending this case to Circuit Court in front of Judge Dodge. I refused to plead guilty as I am not guilty of anything illegal. They have charged me with 4 felony counts, which would give me 8 years each. After that, they decided they would just charge me with having too many plants.
Judge Dodge said that he will not allow the information regarding my medical condition to be used in court, neither will he allow the fact that I have this documentation to be able to use medical marijuana.
I do not understand why the jury will not be allowed to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Next Tuesday I will win, or they will lock me up and throw away the key. 63% of the Michigan voters voted so that people like me could use this Medical Marijuana Act without prosecution, seizure or arrest.
I did not do anything wrong. I am a victim of the Cass County Court system.
Why do they have to throw a sick man in jail? I am only 52, and I do not believe I will live long. I know I will have to go through 12 more weeks of chemotherapy and suffer tremendously just to live a little longer. Where did we lose our compassion? What is wrong with this county? Why do they have to do this to me? Why do they have to do this to anyone? Whatever time I have left, I just want to be left in peace to fight my fight to live each day. Isn’t that what everyone wants? No matter how much pain and suffering is involved, we try to survive one more day.
I truly believe the truth will set me free. This is the truth.
If anyone wants to help, just come down to the Cass County Courthouse on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 8 a.m. and hold a sign in support of people like me who are sick, who are not criminals, who use medical marijuana to relieve terrible pain and suffering.
(Please send in your comments about medical marijuana to our forum.)