DILLON, MT- The large-scale marijuana bust that law officers here touted as a major success this month was instead the persecution of a terminally ill man who needed the drug to help ease his suffering, a pro-medical marijuana group said Friday.
Patients and Families United, based in Helena, blasted the bust and said it would not stand up in court thanks to Montana's Medical Marijuana Law passed three years ago. And they criticized law officers for making a terminally ill man's last days miserable because of the worry that he would end up in prison.
"It amounts to persecution of somebody who's already so overburdened with a medical condition that no one should have," said Tom Daubert, founder and director of PFU. "That's the purpose of our law, to have some relief for somebody who wants to be left alone."
Daubert said his group will step up to help with the legal defense for the man, whose name has not been released by officials.
Law officers from Beaverhead County and the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force this week were trumpeting the seizure of 96 marijuana plants from a mobile home north of Dillon. They said the sophisticated growing operation was meant to keep a steady supply of marijuana coming, with plants at all stages of development.
They said the marijuana's street value could be up to $153,000.
Blair Martenson, regional director for the task force, refused to comment specifically on PFU's comments, saying only that officials were push ahead with prosecution.
"What we have to say will come out in court," he said.
But Daubert said the man targeted in the investigation, who, along with a woman, has yet to be arrested and charged, is suffering from a horrific disease. He would not specify what it was to protect the man, but said it is a rare degenerative disease that is always fatal.
Daubert said if taken into custody, Beaverhead County taxpayers will be on the hook for medical care that costs a staggering $136,000 a month for injections to keep the man alive.
"Beaverhead County can have some fun with this: pay to keep a guy alive for a trial that probably won't happen quickly," he said.
And Daubert lambasted law officers for conducting a three-month investigation without knowledge of Montana's medical marijuana law. He said assertions that the operation was too large to be for one patient's use are bogus, because each individual patient in need of medical marijuana requires different quantities.
For some patients, ingesting the marijuana rather than smoking it is the most effective way to ease pain, maintain appetite or gain the other benefits people garner from pot.
"It is not possible on the basis of the number of plants involved to categorically claim that the growing was for anything other than personal use," he said.
Daubert promised a "vigorous" legal defense of the man. He said although the quantity of marijuana seized far exceeds the one ounce allowed under state law, they will use an affirmative defense to prove that he needed the quantity for his medical needs.
The man is not a registered medical marijuana user, Daubert said. But his medical records will provide more than enough evidence that he has a qualifying condition and needs the drug to help ease his suffering in his final months of life.
"We will bring in experts on dosage, horticulture and quantity issues," Daubert said. "This will be potentially a major precedent-setting case in Montana."
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Pubdate: Sun, 17 Feb 2008
Source: Helena Independent Record (MT)
Copyright: 2008 Helena Independent Record
Author: Nick Gevock, Montana Standard
Cited: Patients and Families United http://www.mtmjpatients.org
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Cannabis - Medicinal)