Thursday, November 6, 2014

Medical Marijuana Madness

This is the tale of government abuse, of the destruction of an honest, though flawed, man who tried his best to keep his family together.

This is like a tale of old; the tales where the evil Sheriff takes the property and confiscates the land of a local patrician, leaving him penniless and alone. Yet in this case there is no son coming back from the Crusades to restore the family honor. There is no redemption.

In this case a local government gone mad - wins. Who did they destroy?

A citizen.
A veteran.
A taxpayer.
A father.
A business owner.
One of its own - a Sergeant for 23 years in the County Jail.

How did it start?

To make the tale shorter, we'll summarize. We'll call him Sarge.

Sarge had seventeen surgeries over the years. These surgeries were not directly work-related, but working in a County jail is hard, physically demanding work. After one grueling surgery, the doctor said he was the perfect candidate for medical marijuana, since Sarge was in pain all the time. As it turns out, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law were both medical marijuana caregivers. Sarge got his legal medical marijuana card and tried marijuana. It made him "feel funny" so he quit using it. His caregivers made some "butter" from the medical marijuana for him. At the time that was legal to do. He didn't really like that either.

He kept his MM card current.

Over the years, two of his fellow guards complained of chronic pain, and a third mentioned that his wife also suffered from constant pain.

What would you do? Sarge recommended his brother-in-law as a caregiver and helped them with their MM paperwork. Now two of his friends and a friend's wife legally had access to MM for pain relief.

So far this isn't an interesting tale. Who cares if a few people in chronic pain obtain legal cards for MM and have it supplied by a registered caregiver?

Can you hear the hobnail boots thumping on the boards of your front porch? Sarge didn't, yet they came.

In March a US Postal inspector investigated a package marked for "media" shipping and found it contained marijuana. So far we can agree. This is a federal offense. The shipper was Sarge's caregiver's husband (also a caregiver). The Postal inspector notified authorities, who obtained a search warrant for the caregiver's residence.

On March 17 at 10PM the lead inspector and seven detectives and two deputies executed the search warrant at the house of the caregivers, putting both the husband and wife in handcuffs as they questioned them. According to available public documents, both the caregivers were cooperative.
The husband admitted to having three registered MM patients and the wife had one - Sarge. Here's where it gets bizarre.

He stated "he uses his Ford pickup to drive the marijuana butter to <Sarge's> residence so <Sarge> can distribute it to his other patients for him … <because> … it is more convenient for <Sarge> to deliver the marijuana butter to the other patients because they all work together." Let's remember that Sarge is this caregiver's brother-in-law.

He told them he made the marijuana butter from the plant buds (again, legal at the time) and receives no compensation from the patients.

Based on this information, the TEN officers of the law went to Sarge's house at about 1AM. A brother officer. A veteran. A father and husband.

These were his fellow officers and they told him - after midnight - that they were just there to talk to him and clear some things up. He cooperated fully with the officers, telling them about getting the "butter" from his brother-in-law and giving it to his fellow workers. Sarge agreed to let the officers search his home - where nothing was found and the only thing confiscated was his MM Patient Card.
He had no marijuana of any kind on the property. He admitted his brother-in-law dropped butter off for him to give to his friends, the caregiver's patients.

At this point a reasonable person would think, "Well, I think he should have known better."

Was Sarge guilty? Of stupidity, certainly. Here is where our government now failed us.

They charged him with TWO FELONIES. He receives the news just before his forty-ninth birthday.
His boss at the County Jail, someone he trusted, gave him suspension without pay pending investigation, though he had full access to the paperwork.

In the jail where Sarge worked a few fellow officers were caught consuming marijuana during their working shifts. They were given misdemeanor charges and a few days off work by the same boss.

Now Sarge has no income and he panics. Like most of us he lives from paycheck to paycheck. He has bills to pay. The little he has in savings disappears rapidly.

He closes his part-time business which runs on a shoestring (a martial arts school).

He can't get work. He's suspended with pending charges.

The DA offered him a deal: If he resigns his employment, testifies truthfully against any other defendants, doesn't file any motions under the MMMA, then he may plead guilty to one count of maintaining a drug  house, a 2-year circuit court misdemeanor.

His lawyer, recommended by sympathetic friends at church, recommends he takes the plea deal.

What has he done wrong? He's almost out of money. He and his wife file bankruptcy. The church gives them food. He applies for his pension under disability, with affidavits from four doctors that he is not fit to perform the duties of a guard. It's a Hail Mary and everyone knows it.

The pension board denies his disability pension, but he doesn't find out about it at home.

Sarge tried to kill himself and his wife had him committed to the State Mental facility.

The discharge him with a $30,000 bill - another fee he cannot pay.

His wife found another attorney who saw the travesty of justice.

They wait months, with delay after delay by the prosecution. With no income and no prospects, Sarge and his family are now totally broke, except for a small income as a health-food distributor.

His eldest son gets married during this time, an event many months in planning. The wedding was joyous, yet bittersweet.

His brothers pitch in, but there's only so much they can do.

His attorney, after seven months of working the case, finally determines that Sarge should accept the latest plea deal. He's afraid the judge will disallow the MMMA laws and Sarge will be tried based strictly on the drug charges and face jail time for felony convictions, a risk he isn't willing to take. Because Sarge admitted that he delivered marijuana butter to friends with legal MM cards. Except that one of the recipients was the husband of the MM card owner. There's the legal twist.

So after seven months and multiple intimidating letters indicating that the DA would prosecute him with the felony charges, Sarge accepted the plea deal - for what they call a High Court misdemeanor. He formally resigned from his job of 23 years.

He still awaits sentencing, but has started his parole meetings. The parole officer and the men who used to work for him now must do a drug test on him. They cannot meet his eyes.

His self-esteem is shattered. He suffers from  PTSD and is clinically depressed (certified) - because of what the government, his friends in law enforcement, did to him.

He will lose his house. His personal life, which I did not delve into, is in turmoil. He has no job prospects. Like many others in this nation, he now seeks employment.

Why did this happen?

He had NO MARIJUANA OF ANY KIND in his possession or on his property. He had a completely legal MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARD.

Who wanted to hurt this man so badly that they were willing - are willing - to shatter his life and put his three children into a poverty-stricken home? For what purpose?

I grew up in a country where I trusted the legal system, the officers of the law, to remove people who mean me harm from society. I trusted the government to keep me safe.

We used to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Now we are a government feared by the people.

They did this to Sarge, for this is a real story.

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