If you’re looking for yet another reason why medical marijuana laws do not go far enough to protect the sick and disabled, please read the email below I received from a multiple sclerosis patient here in Oregon.
On September 16, 2010 my house was raided by the Oregon State Police. Naturally, they produced a search warrant.
My grandmother-in-law was in the living room knitting and I was downstairs working on my computer at the time. She had opened the door after noticing a few people walking around the house through the window. They told her they had a search warrant and were looking for [me]. She told them I was home, downstairs. They pushed through the door and started shouting “Sheriff’s department, search warrant.” Immediately I grabbed my paperwork and medical history to produce to them, going upstairs. The police were going through the house hands on their weapons searching each room. One of them met me at the top up the stairs and I hurried, eager to rid them of my property.
The “paperwork” in question is the application to the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and the signed doctor’s recommendation. According to our medical marijuana law, specifically ORS 475.309 (9): “A person who has applied for a registry identification card pursuant to this section but whose application has not yet been approved or denied, and who is contacted by any law enforcement officer in connection with the person’s administration, possession, delivery or production of marijuana for medical use may provide to the law enforcement officer a copy of the written documentation submitted to the authority pursuant to subsection (2) or (3) of this section and proof of the date of mailing or other transmission of the documentation to the authority. This documentation shall have the same legal effect as a registry identification card until such time as the person receives notification that the application has been approved or denied.”
The legal effect of that registry card, according to ORS 475.301 (1): “a person engaged in or assisting in the medical use of marijuana is excepted from the criminal laws of the state for possession, delivery or production of marijuana”.
I approached the first officer stating I was a medical marijuana patient and requesting they tell me what they were intruding my home for. He immediately tore the envelope that I was holding out of my hands and snatched me by the arm dragging me through each room.
I was able to reach back and grab my papers, explaining to him that I needed them. I demanded that he released my arm because it was hurting and I was losing my balance because of it. He complied after I stated again, to please let go of me I can do it myself. They cuffed me and sat me next to my very shocked grandma.
Truthfully, I told them I had 6 marijuana plants and an ounce of marijuana downstairs that I had medical papers for. The commanding officer retrieved the envelope and started looking through my medical papers that were inside. After 5 minutes he exclaimed to the other officers that I indeed was qualified but there was nothing inside that convinced him I was in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
So, the cops recognize that he is qualified, but for lack of a little piece of paper, decide to ransack his home and harass him anyway for an amount of marijuana and plants well under his allowed limit as a qualified patient. Note that the state department that issues medical marijuana cards is running about four months behind on processing applications.
At this point both of my arms have lost circulation, tingling and cold. I started shivering uncontrollably and begged they loosen the handcuffs. They only complied after I explained I could no longer feel my hands. The cuffs were switched to my front and were loosened. I was shivering and losing consciousness partly, I slipped a blanked over myself and lied my head down on the arm of the couch. They searched through the house trying to find anything they could to charge me with, on top of marijuana possession and manufacturing.
One kind officer got me a bottle of water, asking if I was having a hard time and I explained to him that I was sick with white matter disease (Multiple sclerosis). I then requested for help to the bathroom. The same officer said that was okay, assisting me to the bathroom so I could relieve myself, then walking me back to the couch. Ten or twelve police officers were in the house searching every inch for anything illegal they could charge me with. After they found a few 10 year old signs that I had kept to paint over and recycle the metal giving me a few theft by possession charges, they said we were going to leave.
So was that search warrant for stolen signs from ten years ago or for marijuana? Certainly police can arrest you for a crime not listed on a warrant if they find evidence, but this is obviously a fishing expedition so in case their suspect beats the marijuana charges they’ll still have something to show for their raid to the prosecutor.
Again I requested to use the bathroom before we left, with my illness I tend to need to urinate constantly. Especially after drinking liquids. The commanding officer denied my request stating it would take less time to get to Corvallis from Lebanon then it did to take me to the bathroom. Pleading, I told him I would be unable to hold it that far. He ignored me and a few officers picked me up off of the couch and started walking me out of the door. I had almost completely lost mobility of my legs, and my head started to hurt. The same officer that told me no to my need to urinate, said aloud “You seemed to be okay before we got here, maybe he is faking it.” He was laughing. I replied angrily, “maybe it was from all the stress you guys are putting me through.” He snickered again, “you have stress induced limping.” I shook my head in disbelief. “I am not limping, I am falling to the ground because I can no longer feel my legs and am unable to support them. I need to use the restroom, it hurts.”
I was then put into a patrol car by the officer supporting me. During the ride into Corvallis I was screaming out from the pain in my bladder, sharp pains were going through my abdomen and my head had begun throbbing with a headache. It was too late, I couldn’t stand the punishment and relieved myself in the back of the patrol car. Still moaning in pain, now humiliated by the accident I sat in the back waiting to arrive into town.
When we entered the Benton County jail I was retrieved from the patrol car and set next to the trunk. The officer that drove me explained to the police present in the jail garage that I may have soiled myself and I was suffering from MS. He then turned to me and said “Were you able to hold it or did you piss in the back of my car?” I was so exhausted that I had to lie down half of my body on top of the trunk in order to hold myself up. I mentioned that I had said previously it was too long of a trip and indeed wet myself. The police at the jail then fetched me and I was brought into a holding cell to be searched.
In so much pain from my ankles to the top of my head I had leaned against the wall, unable to move without shouting in pain. One senior officer came in and asked what was wrong with me, another replied “He has MS.” Then senior officer approached me, took hold of my right arm as I was handcuffed and pulled it behind my back even further. This slammed me into the wall face first, which was the only thing I could catch myself with at the moment. He then asked “How’s that? A little better?” Pulling my arm even further into the air, in between my moans of pain I laughed out of resentment and said “yeah, this is great!”
After they cleared me and left the cell, I immediately retreated to the bed to lie down. My clothing still damp with urine, my head now felt like it was splitting open various parts of my skull. I continued to scream from the pains. The nurse was retrieved by a few concerned officers and brought to my cell. She asked what was going on and I explained that I have been very ill ever since May of this year, I have not been able to take my medication today because it was still early when they arrested me. She had me sign a waiver to see my medical history and left the cell.
Moments later I was awoken by the same nurse, she mentioned she had spoken with a doctor and he suggested that I could take 400mgs of ibuprofen and Amoxicillin. I told her that I have taken ibuprofen for a few weeks and my stomach was extremely painful from it and even tender to the touch. She replied “Well I have something that will help with upset stomach” Shaking my head, still grasping it desperately to rid of the pain I explained “No, I don’t want those pills. You don’t understand, it makes my stomach feel like it’s being ripped apart. I need to speak with my doctor, or I need to go to the hospital. I have never felt this much pain before, I don’t know what is happening.” She bluntly replied “Okay.” and left the cell.
I lied back down, screaming out for hours because my head was throbbing, my legs and arms were twitching and I was grasping my heart as it felt like everything was trying to cut its way out of my body. Frustrated I screamed through the door “HELP ME!!!” an officer that had just come on duty came to the window and glared, “You are not getting out of jail, we spoke to the nurse and she said you would be fine.” I pleaded desperately “Please, my head feels like I am being electrocuted I think I need to go to the hospital, I don’t want out of jail.” He shook his head and said “You are just going to have to tough it out, the nurse went home for the day.” and left me to echoing moans and more pain then I have ever dealt with before. I lied down screaming and weeping and was like that for the next 15-18 hours, unable to sleep because of the increasing pain.
Finally, a day after that I was released from the holding cell once I was able to eat my meals and sleep properly. The last few days I was only able to sleep and eat, when I was required to leave my cell an officer or two had to carry me by the arms through to hall. I wasn’t allowed a shower or clean clothes until my switch to a regular housing cell. The police that were on new shifts were uncertain of my condition, one even asked if I was on detox. Confused, I asked detox from WHAT? He replied “Heroin.” This was the same guy that told me to ”tough it out, I can’t imagine the pain you are going through.” I said “No, I lost a lot of weight ever since my sickness.” I don’t even know what that stuff looks like. He nodded and closed my doors.
I had spent a few more days before I had a chance to speak with my lawyer and immediately I told her my condition and that I needed to see my doctor. I had also been waiting on a response from the neurology departments at OHSU and Good Samaritan. It was imperative that I made those appointments. The judge agreed on my release and hours later I was allowed to leave the jail.
And they wonder why some of us in the movement have a “fuck the police” attitude. It seems like a few of the officers displayed some level of basic human compassion, fetching him water, helping him to the bathroom. But where we get to the senior officers taunting an MS patient in excruciating pain and even purposefully slamming him into a wall while wrenching his arm behind his back, we get to the level of the common schoolyard bully.
This is a multiple sclerosis patient, recognizably frail and ill, acknowledged by police at the scene to qualify for protection in the medical marijuana program, in possession of so little marijuana and plants he’d be under the allowed limits of not just Oregon, but six other medical marijuana states as well.