cross posted at mLaw
A frightening circumstance driven by the failure of timid and narcissistic former cannabis imbibing politicians to take action to set federal standards for the legal use of cannabis medicine has led to the indictment of a Minnesota parent who sought relief for her brain injured son using cannibidiol oils to relieve his chronic pain.
Angela Brown was charged with two gross misdemeanor violations (child endangerment and causing a child to need protection) when she was reported to police for administering cannabis oils to her ailing son, Trey, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2011. Each of the child endangerment-related counts Brown faces carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. The charges came in spite of the fact that in May this year Minnesota’s governor, Mark Dayton, signed a law allowing patients to use cannabis as medicine upon a doctor’s recommendation. The law goes into effect next summer and Minnesota patients should be able to purchase cannabis medicines by 2016.
The Browns traveled to Colorado, where cannabis is legal for both recreational purposes and medical purposes, earlier this year in a desperate effort to find a medicine for their son that would help to combat what his mother describes as “extreme body pain.” Brown told Minnesota City Pages that Trey’s “headaches were so bad he couldn’t function.” Brown detailed how she had to hold her son down to prevent him from harming himself due to the intense pain he was experiencing because “he was suicidal.”
The journey to Colorado revealed to the family the dramatic pain relieving effect of cannibidiol oil, an extraction of the cannabis plant that does not contain psychoactive components. Brown said that the cannabis medicine would calm Trey’s muscle spasms and the young patient said he could feel the cranial pressure releasing when the medicine would take effect.
Trey’s symptoms reduced visibly to the point where Trey’s teachers noticed that he was feeling better. Ms. Brown told Trey’s teachers that the dramatic change was due to prescription cannabis oil from Colorado and within a week local police showed up at the family’s home asking that Ms. Brown “hand over” the medicine. Next, Minnesota Family Services confronted Trey while he was at school and asked him, according to his mother, “how much I was making him smoke and how high I was making him get.” Finally, Ms. Brown received papers through the mail advising her that she had been charged with two counts of committing a gross misdemeanor.
A spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington D.C. based cannabis legalization lobby group, Bob Capecci told Local Minneapolis TV station KARE 11 that, while prosecutors have discretion in which cases they choose to investigate, he was “stunned” when he heard about prosecutors pursuing the Brown family. “I can’t think of an instance,” Capecci said, “where an individual has been brought up on charges like this simply because the effective date hasn’t come around yet for the law that has already been passed.”
Complicating the matter, in March of this year Governor Dayton, reportedly advised parents of sick children, who he met with privately to discuss the pending medical cannabis law in Minnesota, that they should “buy pot off the street” to treat their children who can only be helped by cannabis medicines. The governor’s office has denied that Dayton made the statement.
Sadly, this instance of unnecessary harm being inflicted on the sick and the innocent is only one example of how the our federal politicians’ inaction on cannabis legalization is not some kind of undergraduate level poly-sci experiment in “the states being laboratories of democracy” as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have waxed in self-serving interviews conducted by fake journalist, but rather conscious and determined political positioning.
Witness the tragic and growing phenomenon in America of citizens who become medical cannabis refugees, the Brown family says that they intend to move to Colorado after Ms. Brown’s court case is resolved. Also, the bizzaro attempts by tough-guy local police and prosecutors at enforcing their interpretation of “justice” as they hammer unrelentingly at low-level cannabis users and medical cannabis users. It seems almost as if these prohibitionist law enforcers are determined to bag as many ‘final scores’ as they can, sending as many kids to jail and confiscating as much property and cash as they can before the inevitable federal legalization of cannabis.
The self-exculpating dodge of using the words “laboratories of democracy” to justify no action at the federal level is a common ploy for cowardly and amoral political animals. We have seen this over the course of 50 years where a woman’s right to choose has been under a prolonged and concerted attack by anti-democratic zealots, which has led to the embarrassing and dangerous situation where abortion, a fully legal medical procedure in the US, is unavailable to patients in 98 percent of America’s counties. Inaction on the federal decriminalization and rescheduling of cannabis dressed up as “allowing the states to be laboratories of democracy” is as bigoted, small minded, rooted in brute political calculation and, in a word, immoral as the abusive power wielding that anti-abortionist politicians have practiced over a half a century.
Every self-interested politician who mouths the weasel-words “laboratories of democracy” knows that cannabis medicine saves lives and relieves pain, that allowing cannabis to remain criminal will permanently label over 600,000 Americans every year as arrestees and that the vast majority of these citizens will be young African Americans and Latino Americans.
Picture from Brett Levin licensed under Creative Commons