Opinion: Sheriff should return medical marijuana
Free Press Opinion Columnist
Cold season seems to have struck with a vengeance, leaving few households without a sick resident or two. Christmas colds have worked their way through my family, knocking out each of us one by one.
We have consumed quite an assortment of over-the-counter medications. Aside from the slight annoyance of having to prove I am old enough to purchase cold medicine and being allowed to buy only limited quantities at a time, lest I succumb to the supposed temptation of manufacturing meth, I have had no trouble acquiring the things I have deemed best for my family.
That is not the case for the thousands of people suffering from severe and debilitating ailments, which are not alleviated by simply popping a pill or making lifestyle changes. When all else fails, medical marijuana has been proven to ease pain, nausea, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as to treat cancer, epilepsy, arthritis, and heart disease. The website MarijuanaDoctors.com lists more than 200 medical conditions which may be successfully treated with cannabis therapy.
Colorado voters have long recognized the benefits of medical marijuana, as demonstrated by the passage of Amendment 20 in 2000, which authorizes doctors to prescribe marijuana for certain medical conditions and allows plants to be legally grown, purchased, and consumed for medical treatment.
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Unfortunately, there are still many obstacles preventing our sickest citizens from getting the treatment they need. With our private, profit-based prison system as well as the fact that substantial portions of law enforcement budgets come from the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, law enforcement still makes participating in the failed war on drugs a priority.
On Dec. 20, while I was at the grocery store purchasing all the medications my family needed for our ailments, a very sick friend of mine was receiving a visit from some Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies. They were called to the home for a medical issue and came across my friend’s medical marijuana supply. She had grown her medicine in accordance with Colorado laws and was carefully managing her supplies to last until harvest time this summer.
Authorities concluded that this woman, who is virtually bedridden and dying, was a drug dealer and confiscated everything, which included about 50 mason jars, each containing an ounce or two of marijuana. They claim to have confiscated 50 pounds of drugs but failed to subtract the weight of the jars from their total. Some simple math and the fact that a one-quart jar weighs almost 15 ounces leaves one to conclude that she had only a few pounds of medication, barely enough to ease her pain and treat her symptoms until the next harvest.
No arrests were made, and no charges have been filed, yet Mesa County continues to hold the medication. My friend’s health deteriorates every day, and her pain is excruciating. She is so chemically sensitive that virtually any food or medicine she has not grown organically herself makes her sicker. Even if she could find organic cannabis or afford to buy it, it still would not suit her as well as the plants grown specifically for her conditions.
It’s up to us to speak out when the justice system mistreats the people it should be defending and arbitrarily decides which laws to follow and which to ignore. If we believe that sick people deserve humane treatment and that law enforcement should follow the laws enacted by we, the people, it surely couldn’t hurt to give Sheriff Hilkey and District Attorney Hautzinger a call.
More information about my friend’s medical conditions and the benefits of cannabis treatment may be found with the petition created by her family, entitled “Mesa County Sheriff: Return Brenda Maggio’s illegally seized medicine” at Change.org.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. According to Amnesty International, we lock up our citizens, mostly for drug-related offenses, at a rate of 743 per 100,000 people, compared to Russia’s 577 per 100,000 and China’s 117.
Criminalizing sick people serves no one and certainly makes none of us safer. Every time that we perpetuate the war on drugs, we are putting power, profits, and mega corporations ahead of ourselves. What logic can there be in that?
A fourth generation Coloradan, GJ Free Press columnist Robyn Parker is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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