A Missouri man suffering from stage-four (IV) pancreatic cancer endured a police raid on his hospital room Thursday, as officers searched his belongings for cannabis.
As far as Nolan Sousley was concerned, he was about to have his best night of rest in recent memory because he could go to sleep knowing he was surrounded by medical professionals that could save his life if his health took a turn for the worse while he was asleep. As the Catalina Wine Mixer scene from the movie Step Brothers played in the background, law enforcement officers entered the safe space of Sousley’s hospital room just as he was about to get some sleep.
Sousley was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in May of 2018. By the time his condition was diagnosed, it had already spread to his liver, qualifying his cancer as stage IV.
Cancer can be categorized as any stage between zero (0) and four (IV). Cancer categorized as stage zero has not spread from the location in the body where it originated. Stage zero cancer is often considered to be highly curable because it has not spread. By the time cancer is categorized as stage four, it means that it has spread to the organs or other parts of the body. Patients suffering from stage four cancer are fighting for their lives.
Police officers from the Bolivar Police Department in Missouri received a call from the hospital’s security guard on March 7 complaining that Sousley’s room smelled like marijuana. Sousley had already been admitted to the hospital for two days.
According to Sousley and his girlfriend and caregiver Amber Kidwell, the hospital security guard had entered their room earlier in the evening on Thursday, March 7, to ask if they were smoking marijuana inside. Sousley denied the allegations, and the next thing they knew, there were three law enforcement officers in the hospital room searching their belongings.
When police arrived to begin the search, Sousley admitted to officers that he had swallowed capsules containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil earlier in the evening when he was downstairs and outside of the hospital.
Sousley explained that he did not have any more of the THC pills with him in the hospital. Even though Missourians voted to legalize medical cannabis four months earlier, Sousley had been careful to keep it outside and not bring it inside the hospital’s private property.
Sousley began recording the scene with his mobile phone shortly after the officers arrived.
There were at least three Bolivar police officers in the room for the search, and some criticize that they should have been on the streets protecting the community from dangerous criminals instead of inside the hospital room of a sick Missourian searching for a plant that was recently legalized in the state.
The video begins with the three police officers in the room. One officer is riffling through a bag, and the situation quickly becomes tense. Sousley begins speaking with one of the officers in the room who is not actively searching any of the belongings.
“Here they are. I had some capsules that had some THC oil in them,” Sousley said to the officers quite early on in the recording. “I took them outside on the parking lot.”
Sousley’s friend who in the hospital room with him at the time, Tim Roberts, begins explaining to the police that Sousley uses THC oil pills to treat the debilitating symptoms of stage four cancer and chemotherapy like pain, extreme weight loss from a loss of appetite, and nausea.
As Roberts is calmly explaining the facts to the officer, Sousley interrupts to say, “I’m going to get arrested. They already told me I’m going to get arrested.”
“If we find marijuana, we will give you a citation,” responded the Bolivar police officer, clarifying the extent of the situation. “We’re not taking you down to the county jail. But we haven’t found marijuana, so we’re not citing.”
“Why are you digging in this stuff?” Sousley asked continuing to be disgruntled. “I told you where I took it.”
To which the officer replied, “Because we got a call.”
Sousley admits that he was up front with all of his doctors and hospital staff about his use of cannabis. Like many other cancer patients, he chooses to take THC oil instead of the opioids he is prescribed.
As the search continues during the video, Sousley gets more upset. “I want to know why it’s a big deal if it is really legal in Missouri now?” he asked. “Medically in Missouri it is really legal now. They just haven’t finished the paperwork.”
“Okay well then it’s still illegal,” the officer replied.
“But I don’t have time to wait for that, man” Sousley said. “What would you do? Tell me what you’d do.”
“I’m not in that situation, so I’m not playing the what if game,” said the officer.
“You’ve never said you’d do anything to save your life?” Sously continued. “What if you had 5 kids?”
Before the officer can formulate a response to Sousley questions, Roberts interjects. “It’s not worth the argument right now. Do your jobs,” he said. “We’re not going to have the debate. Hush up.”
The silence doesn’t last long before Sousley starts speaking again.
“It’s my right to live. We’re Americans,” he said. “I was born here. It’s my right to live.”
Seconds later, a doctor enters the room. One officer explains to the doctor, “We got a call saying they could smell marijuana when they walked in the room.”
“There is no way they could smell it. I don’t smoke it. I don’t ever use a ground up plant,” insisted Sousley. “It’s an oil that i use in a capsule, so there is no smoking it. I take it like a pill.”
The physician then calmly asks the officers, “Do you guys have probable cause to search his stuff? Do you have the right to search his stuff, or do you need a warrant for that?”
“We have the right,” said the officer. “It’s on private property.”
“Alright so what’s the proceeding here?” the doctor asked the officer. “He needs to be here. If you take him, it would be problematic.”
“We’re just here because they called saying they smelled marijuana in the room,” the officer explained. “We’re trying to either find yes there is marijuana or there is no marijuana. And if we find it, we’ll cite it. We’ll leave and give him a citation.”
Once officers finished searching all of the bags in the room except for one, they asked to search the one remaining bag that Sousley was keeping behind him and refusing to subject to a search. In the video, Sousley insists that he already showed the officers the empty plastic bag that had contained the THC capsules before he swallowed them in the parking lot, but he was refusing to let them search the duffel bag that held the plastic bag of THC oil capsules.
“If we could just search it and declare there is no marijuana in it,” bargains the officer. Meanwhile, the physician in the room is attempting to calm the situation by asking the officers if they could just take the bags and leave the room to continue the search.
Sousley was sensitive about letting the officers search his personal bag. “It is my bag of medication. It has my final day things in there, and nobody is going to dig in it,” he said. “It’s my stuff. My final hour stuff is in that bag, and it’s my right to have it and i’m not digging it out here in front of anybody.”
In the end, Sousley did agree to let the officer he like the most search his personal bag after the other officers stepped outside the room.
No cannabis was found in Sousley’s room, and officers departed without issuing a citation for possession.
To follow up with those who responded to the video, Sousley and Kidwell posted another video on the tribe’s Facebook page.
What went wrong?
Voters in Missouri approved Amendment 2 in November of 2018, effectively legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis in the Show Me State. The measure passed with a 66 percent majority vote.
Once a legalization amendment is approved, it doesn’t help patients out right away. It takes time for the program to get up and running. It can take months or even years for the state to establish regulations and issue licenses to medical cannabis businesses.
It is often years after legalization before patients have safe, reliable access to medication. This is where the system is flawed. In the interim between voting to legalize and implementing the retail system, patients are forced to wait and suffer. They have to live in fear that they could be arrested, ticketed, or fined for possessing a plant that is their medication.
Patients in Missouri are not expected to have access to medical cannabis until 2020.
While some criticize the police officers for having performed the search after responding to the call, the real problem is the implementation of the system.
What do you think about this situation? Should the officers have followed through with the search of Nolan’s hospital room? Tell us in the comments.
Nolan’s Tribe of Warriors Against Cancer
Sousley was not available for comment when we reached out to him, but he did comment on his YouTube page:
“Thank you too everyone. I still don’t know my rights. I am home from hospital. Loving all the comments, care, and concern. But mainly love for mankind. I have missed that the last what? Twenty years? Thirty years? Been a long time since we were civil. Love you all my fellow human beings. Let’s fight. Let’s win. #terminallivesmatter,” Nolan commented on the video he uploaded to YouTube.com.
Both Nolan and his girlfriend and caregiver Amber have had to take days off from work as a result of Nolan’s health issues. Theystarted a Go Fund Me page to try to raise funds to help them during this difficult time.
Missouri Medical Cannabis Law
Missourians voted to legalize medical cannabis in November 2018. The new law dictates that patients who qualify for the program are legally allowed to possess and use cannabis for medical purposes.
Once the program is up and running, state-licensed physicians will have the right to recommend cannabis to any patient suffering from any condition that they think could benefit from cannabinoid medication. Unlike most other medical states, there is no list of qualifying conditions in Missouri. Medical cannabis recommendations are up to the discretion of the state-licensed physician.
Once a patient receives a recommendation from a doctor, he or she will receive a medical cannabis patient identification card which will allow the patient to purchase up to four ounces of dried cannabis flower or other products from a dispensary each month.
The state is responsible for issuing business licenses to cultivators, manufacturers, testing facilities, and retailers. Patients and their registered caregivers are also permitted to cultivate up to six of their own cannabis plants at home.
One of three medical marijuana legalization initiatives on the Missouri ballot passed on Tuesday, while two other competing initiatives have failed.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the initiative, Amendment 2, was approved 66-34 percent.
The fight to legalize in Missouri was complicated this year after multiple initiatives qualified for the ballot: one proposed statutory change and two constitutional amendments.
Amendment 2, backed by New Approach Missouri, was favored by national advocacy groups such as MPP and NORML. The measure allows physicians to recommend medical cannabis for any condition they see fit.
“Thanks to the unflagging efforts of patients and advocates, Missourians who could benefit from medical marijuana will soon be able to use it without fear of being treated like criminals,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement to Marijuana Moment. “We hope lawmakers will implement the measure efficiently and effectively to ensure qualified patients can gain access to their medicine as soon as possible.”
Under the measure, patients and registered caregivers would be allowed to grow up to six plants and purchase up to four ounces of marijuana from a dispensary per month. Sales would be taxed at four percent.
The other measures on the ballot also generally would have provided protections for cannabis patients and establish legal systems for patients to obtain marijuana from dispensaries. But there were significant differences when it came to taxation for each measure.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the latest election results information.
Follow Marijuana Moment’s election live blog for the latest updates on cannabis ballot measures and congressional races here.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
New quarterly campaign finance documents from Missouri medical marijuana ballot committees, covering activity from July 1 to September 30, show some coalescing of support for one of three measures on the ballot, while a recently created committee that opposes all of the medical cannabis options has yet to report any financial support.
Here’s what the fundraising and expenditures for the key committees behind each of the three proposed measures look like:
(Note: only those committees with major activity in Q3 are displayed)
Missouri has one of the most confusing sets of marijuana ballot options to ever go before voters in any state, with two proposed constitutional amendments and one proposed statutory measure to choose from. Each option was sponsored by a separate committee that actively attacked the others in the months leading up to qualifying this summer to get on the ballot, with hostile campaign tactics continuing since then—including lawsuits and opposition research into the personal finances of advocates.
In the last few months, two additional organizations entered the fray. One is the only ballot committee that opposes both of the amendments and the proposition. Citizens for SAFE Medicine registered on September 20, and did not report any financial contributions or expenditures on its October 15 report. Judy Brooks, listed as Treasurer of the organization, is also a founder of Jefferson City’s Council For Drug Free Youth.
The other is “Patients Against Bradshaw Amendment Formally Known As Find The Cures Political Action Committee.” The committee, which registered August 27, opposes Amendment 3 and supports Amendment 2. It raised $1,441 cash from five donors, and has spent $447 of that on campaigning.
Its verbose name is a reference to Dr. Brad Bradshaw, the main financial contributor to Find the Cures, a committee that registered in September 2015 to support the measure now designated as Amendment 3. Between October 2017 and June 2018, he provided loans to Find the Cures to the tune of $1.2 million. The committee spent over $800,000 of that to hire a signature collection firm to get on the ballot.
Bradshaw’s measure would, among other things, create a research center that many suspect he intends to run himself. It had already come under fire from Missouri NORML, which backs New Approach Missouri and its preferred proposal, Amendment 2. Find the Cures had already raised $1,556,705 in the first half of 2018 (much of that in the loans from Bradshaw), but started the most recent quarter with just $79 in the bank. From July through September, the committee took in another $209,111, with $186,121 of that in the form of additional loans from Bradshaw. It spent $164,739 on advertising and campaign staff, leaving $44,451 cash on hand for the remaining weeks before the election.
Under Amendment 2, doctors would be allowed to recommend medical cannabis for any condition they feel it is needed. Registered patients and caregivers would be permitted to grow up to six marijuana plants and purchase up to four ounces from dispensaries per month. Medical cannabis sales at dispensaries would be taxed at four percent. As previously reported by Marijuana Moment, the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP, Freedom Incorporated and the St. Louis American newspaper support Amendment 2. It also recently garnered an endorsement from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
New Approach Missouri was the most active committee in terms of continuing to raise and spend funds in quarter three of 2018. The group, which had already raised $1,057,263 for the election, took in another $256,924 cash and $15,368 worth of in-kind contributions. They spent $229,122 in the quarter, for events, legal fees, database management, media creation and public affairs in support of Amendment 2. One employee has been paid a total of $116,180 over the course of the campaign. They had $39,878 in the bank at the end of September.
Long-time political action committee Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, which has been around for seven years, had little activity last quarter, bringing in $350 and spending $72, leaving $2,250 on hand. It has however seemingly thrown its support behind New Approach Missouri, providing $5,000 in in-kind support to the committee.
Here’s a chart using a logarithmic scale that includes more of the committees, even those with relatively paltry finances:
(Note: scale is logarithmic in order to depict smaller committees)
Missourians for Patient Care, which supports Proposition C, had little money activity in the most recent reporting period, suggesting that it is perhaps stepping back from active campaigning at this point. The group had raised a whopping $1,393,360 in 2018, but had only $31,077 left on hand at the beginning of July. In the last three months, it brought in $115 and reported no expenses.
One additional committee that formed, “Missouri Medical Marijuana,” that supported “medical marijuana measure,” has terminated its operations.
On Election Day, we will see whether the millions of dollars spent result in Missouri voters enacting one of more of the cannabis ballot proposals.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
While all three measures seek to establish regulated medical cannabis systems in the state, two are proposed constitutional amendments and the third would be a statutory amendment. In Missouri, the top vote-getter generally prevails.
But in this case, if votes for the statutory amendment exceed those for either of the constitutional measures—and one of the constitutional measures also passes—the fate of Missouri’s medical marijuana law could be left up to the courts.
The stakes are high for each sponsoring advocacy group to avoid vote splitting. If a sufficient number of voters go to the polls and only support their favored approach while voting against the other two, it could end up being the case that no measure garners majority support.
But just days after the ballot qualification announcement, advocates are already sniping at competing proposals.
Missouri NORML has gone to bat for the proposed constitutional measure sponsored by New Approach Missouri, which would allow doctors to recommend cannabis for certain medical conditions, let patients grow up to six plants and possess up to four ounces and tax medical marijuana from registered dispensaries at four percent.
“Having three initiatives on the same ballot dealing with the same issue complicates the situation considerably,” Missouri NORML executive director Dan Viets wrote in a blog post on Friday.
New Approach Missouri and the state NORML chapter established an alliance early on—and now that all three initiatives are set to appear on the November ballot, the organization isn’t mincing words about its competition.
“Most observers believe that either of the constitutional amendments would prevail over the statutory initiative even if it got more votes, which seems very unlikely,” Viets wrote. “The other constitutional initiative is funded by a single individual, a wealthy personal injury lawyer from Springfield, Missouri.”
“His campaign has a single contributor. It would establish the highest tax on medical marijuana in the nation and use that tax money to establish a new medical research facility which the filer of the petition, attorney Brad Bradshaw, would personally run. His initiative specifies that the filer of his initiative will choose the Board of Directors and that the Chief Executive of that research agency must be someone who is both a physician and a lawyer, which Bradshaw is! If the press exposes the blatant vested interest he has in this measure, we think the public will reject it.”
Marijuana Moment reached out to the Find the Cures campaign for comment, but did not receive a response.
A spokesperson for the statutory amendment sponsor, Missourians for Patient Care, told Marijuana Moment that the group was actually optimistic about the fact that multiple medical cannabis legalization amendments were on the table.
“We’re ecstatic that Missouri has the chance to decide this issue this November on behalf of all of the initiatives, but we’re especially excited that if voters support one or more of these that Missouri won’t be left behind for patients,” Travis Brown, the signature collection leader for Missourians for Patient Care, said.
There remains a possibility that the competing groups “could cooperate or prevail together,” he said. But at the end of the day, “it’s really ultimately up to the people to decide whether they want to amend their constitution, which has some advantages of permanence.” That same advantage “comes at a disadvantage because it can’t be adapted over time, or improved or tweaked in any way.”
“At this point, it’s a Jenga game to see what the courts may ultimately decide after the voters make their decision.”
Reform efforts in Missouri could have been even further complicated if lawmakers had passed a medical marijuana legalization bill earlier this year.
As advocates hustled to collect signatures for their respective ballot initiatives, Missouri lawmakers debated a bill that would have legalized “smokeless” medical cannabis for patients suffering from serious illnesses. The bill cleared a number of hurdles—but it ultimately died in committee just days before the end of session in May.
Some of those lawmakers have weighed in since the Missouri Secretary of State announced that the three medical marijuana ballot measures had qualified.
“I am concerned that the competing campaigns of the three medical marijuana initiatives certified for the November ballot certified for the November ballot… will alienate voters and lead to Missourians waiting longer to have access to these therapeutic options,” Missouri Rep. Cheri Reisch (R) said in a press release Thursday.
Missouri Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R) echoed that sentiment, saying that while he supported the legalization bill in the House, voters must be “cautious about proposed changes to our laws, especially those built into the constitution, and must work to ensure any voter approved framework is implemented in ways that protects the rights of Missourians to healthcare freedom and equitable commercial access.”
In any case, with a majority of Missourians in favor of medical marijuana legalization according to polls, it seems highly likely that the state will push reform forward, unless advocates sufficiently tarnish each other’s proposals in the public’s eye. But what path they ultimately take in November—and beyond—is yet to be seen.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Medical marijuana legalization got one step closer to making it on Missouri’s November ballot on Friday.
Just two days before the deadline to submit petitions on measures to change state law or amend the state constitution, two groups filed signatures to place competing medical cannabis proposals before voters. A third group turned in signatures for its additional medical marijuana initiative at the last minute on Sunday.
New Approach Missouri delivered more than 370,000 signed petitions to the Missouri Secretary of State. Approximately 168,000 valid signatures are required to qualify for the ballot.
The proposed constitutional amendment would allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis for any condition. Registered patients and caregivers would be allowed to grow up six marijuana plants and purchase up to four ounces from dispensaries per month. Medical cannabis sales at dispensaries would be taxed at four percent.
Find the Cure, an organization promoting a separate proposed constitutional amendment, also turned in signatures in a bid to get on the November ballot on Friday, according to the Associated Press. The group’s measure would let doctors recommend medical marijuana to patients. The retail sales tax on medical marijuana under the Find The Cures Amendment would be set at a much steeper 15 percent, however.
A proposed statutory change, backed by Missourians for Patient Care, would remove state laws prohibiting the use, possession, cultivation and sale of cannabis. Medical marijuana sales would be taxed at two percent under the proposal.
The group submitted signatures for its petition to the Missouri Secretary of State just ahead of the Sunday deadline, the Associated Press reported. If the signatures are verified and the initiative ultimately qualifies for the November ballot, that could cause complications in November. With two campaigns already confident of having enough support to appear on the ballot, there’s already a risk of splitting votes and jeopardizing any citizen-led petition to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
(A fourth group filed signatures on Sunday in support of a broader measure that would legalize marijuana for adults over 18.)
“All polling has indicated that support for medical marijuana in Missouri is well above 60 percent. Only 50 percent of voters is required in order for this initiative to succeed in amending our state’s Constitution,” Dan Viets, the chair of New Approach Missouri’s board, said in an email. “Although one or possibly two other medical marijuana initiatives may be placed on the ballot, ours will be first among the Constitutional amendments on this topic. If both of the two Constitutional amendment initiatives pass, the one with more votes will prevail.”
The Other Way Missourians Could Have Legal Medical Cannabis
Last month, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy or HIV. It has since been sent to the Senate for consideration, and insiders are confident that it stands a solid chance of passing there, too.
That said, there are only about two weeks left in Missouri’s legislative session, so any delays—including amendments, filibusters, or committee hold-ups—could ultimately back-burner the legislation. (A quick aside on that point: Missouri lawmakers are expected to take up a special session to consider the impeachment of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, who has been charged with two felonies. The medical marijuana bill could theoretically be taken up during a special session.)
Advocates in Utah have already submitted enough signatures to qualify a medical cannabis measure that state’s November ballot, county clerks said. And elections officials in Michigan ruled last week that activists collected a sufficient amount of signatures to place a full marijuana legalization measure before voters.
UPDATE May 7, 2018 1:34 PST: This story has been updated to reflect that a third group backing a medical marijuana legalization initiative in Missouri turned in signatures before the state’s deadline.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below: