THOMAS TWP. — On Friday, a neon-green sign that said “Tri-City Compassion Club, park here” in stenciled block letters was posted in front of the lot and Thomas Township home owned by John F. Roberts.
Roberts, 49, whose home — where he lives with his fiancée Stephanie Whisman, 38 — was raided by DEA agents July 6, is the new location of the Tri-City Compassion Club.
Roberts, a state-registered grower, patient and a former leader of the Bay City-based compassion club — now the newly named Mid-Michigan Tri-City Compassion Club, which has more 300 members, according group President Kim M. Zimmer — left the Bay City group and was allowed to use its old name to begin a separate club.
Roberts said the purpose of the club is to educate prospective patients about getting started legally and to inform current patients about growing and processing methods.
Members also bring baked goods, oils and dried marijuana to sample, purchase and trade — provided they are certified medical marijuana patients, Roberts said.
He said the clubs offer a comfortable alternative for patients who don’t wish to purchase their medical marijuana on the black market.
None of the meeting attendees wished to speak publicly about their involvement with medical marijuana or reasons for attending the club meeting.
Zimmer said her club parted ways with Roberts after his home was raided in July. She declined to speak about specifics of the separation.
“There is no conflict,” Roberts said. “The person who owned the building wanted to go in a different direction than I wanted and that I could afford.”
He wouldn’t disclose the owner or location of the building the club calls home but said he had been paying the club’s building lease until he left and could no longer afford to.
Roberts’ club is in his backyard among wooded trails and fire pits.
Cars parked on the grass at the outskirts of Roberts’ property Friday.
About 15 medical marijuana patients, two children, caretakers and others who were curious exited their vehicles and crossed a length of freshly cut grass, walking toward a brownish-red wooden storage shed with two open doors.
Inside about four medical marijuana patients sat in chairs around a coffee table, upon which lay brownies and muffins baked with cannabis butter — they were donated by one of the group members — and on another table were two jars full of marijuana buds — each containing about an ounce of marijuana, Roberts said.
An empty container on the table said “donations for baby girl.”
The anticipated donation was marijuana, not money, Roberts said.
Roberts said he and others provide medicine, what he calls “Rick Simpson hemp oil,” to a state-registered 6-year-old girl suffering from a brain tumor — free of charge — and it takes 2 to 3 ounces of marijuana to make enough of the dark, tar-like extract, which he said lasts two weeks.
Mixed with peanut butter for ingestion, the oil helps the child to sleep and to eat regularly, Roberts said.
Roberts said he’ll continue to conduct compassion club meetings at his home each Friday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.