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.
Marijuana initiatives passed in three out of the four states where they were put before voters on Tuesday. A new Marijuana Moment analysis shows that in many cases these cannabis proposals did better than other ballot measures or candidates for major office who appeared on the same ballot.
Marijuana legalization got more votes than the winning candidate for governor, Gretchen Whitmer (D), who received 53.34 percent of the vote (2,256,700 votes). The measure also got more votes than incumbent U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), who got 2,195,601 votes, or 52.2 percent. Obviously, legal marijuana also garnered more support than the Republican candidates who lost to Whitmer and Stabenow.
More people approved of cannabis than they did the winning attorney general candidate, Dana Nessel (D), who will need to carry out cannabis regulations—and potentially defend them from any federal interference. Losing AG candidate Tom Leonard (R), who opposed the initiative but said he would uphold it if elected, got 435,000 fewer votes than legal cannabis did.
Voter turnout in the state was up significantly from 2014. In the last two mid-term elections, about 3.2 million votes were cast. 4.3 million votes were reported in this year’s election. That’s about 55.4 percent of the voting age population, or 14 points higher than in 2014, and close to general election levels, which were 4.8 million votes in 2016.
The total votes on Proposal 1 (yes and no voters) were higher than the totals for either Proposal 2 (anti-gerrymandering) or Proposal 3 (electoral reforms) on the same ballot, though those proposals had more definitive “yes” votes, which implies that Michiganders overall had stronger opinions on marijuana than those other issues.
The winning measure, Amendment 2 was approved by 66 percent of voters, or 1,572,592 votes.
The initiative got 824,615 more votes than competing cannabis measure Amendment 3 and 541,221 more than Proposition C, another medical marijuana proposal.
When compared to other issues on the ballot, the successful marijuana question got 113,016 more votes than Amendment 1 (redistricting and campaign finance reform), 84,224 more than Proposition B (minimum wage hike) and 470,762 more than Proposition D (a gas tax hike).
Amendment 2 also got 326,860 more votes than Josh Hawley, the Republican winner of the U.S. Senate race who defeated incumbent Claire McCaskill (D) by winning 51.4 percent of the vote.
Missouri counties where Amendment 2 did extra-well:
St. Louis City
A total of 329,086 people turned out to vote in North Dakota. While the measure to fully legalize cannabis lost, it garnered 131,585 votes, or 40.5 percent of the vote, and did better than losing candidates in several races.
Marijuana got more votes than congressional contender Mac Schneider (D), who got 113,891 votes, or 35.6 percent, secretary of state candidate Josh Boschee (D) who got 119,983 votes (39.2 percent) or attorney general candidate David Clark Thompson (D), who got 102,407 (32.2 percent).
In short, it seems that the state’s voters favor legal marijuana more than they favor Democrats.
There were four counties where the measure did get a majority of votes. In Sioux county, 71 percent of voters (994) selected yes. In Rolette, 2,891 voted yes (58 percent) and in Benson, 1,153 supported the measure (51.3 percent). In Cass County, where Fargo is located, the measure passed by 50.8 percent. And in Grand Forks County, the measure outdid the state-wide percentage rate, with 46.7 percent of voters (12,976) approving the initiative.
In Utah, where there are still a relatively substantial number of ballots yet to be counted, Proposition 2 to legalize and regulate medical marijuana has so far received 407,943 votes, or 53 percent. That is just barely more votes than Proposition 3 for Medicaid expansion, which received 407,596 votes. Proposition 4 regarding independent redistricting received 371,614 votes, or 36,329 fewer than Prop 2.
It received substantially more support than losing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jenny Wilson, who got 241,951 votes, but came roughly 70,000 votes shy of winner Mitt Romney (R).
In a county-by-county breakdown, the number of people voting for Proposition 2 was greater than the number voting for the House of Representatives winner in several counties, though there is not yet data available showing how individual congressional districts voted on the medical cannabis measure.
Preliminary voter turnout in Utah was estimated at around 54.7 percent at 5 PM on election day, far surpassing the last mid-term turnout of 46.3 percent of registered voters.
Counties where the proposition performed exceptionally well:
In all four states, more people voted for the marijuana initiatives than supported Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 (h/t Weedmaps). And Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure got more votes than President Trump did in the state that year.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
With the gubernatorial wins of Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, J. B. Pritzker in Illinois, Tim Walz in Minnesota and Tony Evers in Wisconsin, the stage seems to be set for a Midwestern green revolution. Michigan became the first state in the region to legalize for adult use, but the overall political landscape bodes well for cannabis reform efforts with the new governors-elect taking their seats soon.
Illinois and Minnesota already have exiting medical cannabis systems in place. Pritzker said on Wednesday that he thinks his state should consider adult-use legalization “right away,” noting the economic benefits. A system designed to expunge the criminal records of individuals who’ve been convicted of cannabis-related offenses is also on the table for Illinois, he said.
Similarly, Whitmer said that Michigan voters have made clear that “no one should bear a lifelong record” for an offense that has since been legalized. She will be “looking into” policies to ameliorate that problem.
“A green Midwest would say [to the federal government] what we’re seeing in so many other arenas,” Jolene Forman, a staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment. “Marijuana is not an exclusively a leftist or libertarian issue. It’s really an issue that the American public wants to see.”
Historically, the Midwest hasn’t been regarded as a region especially friendly toward progressive cannabis policies. But that’s rapidly changing, and the results of the midterm election could signal a paradigm shift that’s been a long time coming, Forman said.
For example, Walz, in Minnesota, said he wants to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.”
In Wisconsin, voters in 16 counties and two cities embraced various marijuana reform proposals in the form of non-binding advisory questions on Tuesday. Outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walter (R) opposed full legalization and called marijuana a “gateway drug” as recently as May, but governor-elect Evers has said he wants to put a legalization question on the statewide ballot for voters to weigh in on and would support ending prohibition if they approved it. In the meantime he wants to enact decriminalization and legalize medical cannabis.
2018 has been a banner year for marijuana ballot initiatives. Voters in two states are considering legalizing recreational use, while those in another two states will decide whether to allow medical cannabis.
In the lead-up to the election, committees supporting or opposing these initiatives have raised a total of $12.9 million in cash and in-kind services over the past two years to convince those voters, Marijuana Moment’s analysis of the latest campaign finance records filed the day before Election Day shows.
On the day final ballots are cast and tallied, here’s where funding totals now stand for the various cannabis committees, both pro and con, in the four states considering major modifications to marijuana laws.
(Notes: For Missouri, PACS supported one of three initiatives that would bring some form of medical marijuana to the state. Missouri Oppose ($6,000) data isn’t visible on chart due to scale.)
New Approach Missouri, which supports Amendment 2, raised a total of $1.7 million. Major donors included Drug Policy Action, which contributed $258,500 and the national New Approach PAC, which contributed a total of $173,470 in-kind, most of that coming through in October. Former Anheuser-Busch CEO Adulphus Busch IV contributed $134,000 through individual donations and his Belleau Farms. Seven Points LLC contributed $125,000 over the course of the year, Missouri Essentials dropped in $97,000 and Emerald City Holdings put in $75,000. The group received a last-minute $25,000 donation from 91-year-old Ethelmae Humphrys, former CEO of TAMKO, and realtor Ron Stenger contributed $25,000 over the year.
Latecomer PAC Patients Against the “Bradshaw Amendment,” also supports Amendment 2 and raised $2,530.
Missourians for Patient Care, which supports Proposition C, reports raising $1.48 million, but much of that is in-kind services from staff.
Another group, Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, raised only $350.
Citizens for SAFE Medicine, which opposes all the initiatives, did not appear on the scene until September, and accounts for only $6,000 of the total.
Michigan committees raised more than $5 million in the past two years around adult-use legalization on the ballot. The pro-legalization Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol raised the most: $2.3 million. The National New Approach PAC provided almost half of those funds, with $1.1 million in contributions. The Marijuana Policy Project contributed $554,205, while the Drug Policy Alliance provided $75,000 in the last weeks of the campaign.
Anti-legalization committee Healthy and Productive Michigan was right behind, raising $2.2 million, with over a million of that from national prohibition organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). SAM also provided over $125,000 of in-kind support.
MI Legalize raised just over $500,000, most of that in 2017, and two smaller PACS raised a total of $10,000.
Funding has continued to pour in at an extraordinary rate during the last days of the campaign. 31 percent of the total money raised—$1.6 million—has come in since October 21.
The PIC that raised the most was against the proposition: Drug Safe Utah raised $842,424 in 2018. Over $350,000 of that funding came from a single lawyer, William Plumb, and his associates.
A smaller opponent to the proposition, Truth About Proposition, raised $66,040.
It took pro-reform PIC Utah Patients Coalition 18 months to raise $831,471. The group’s largest donor was the national organization Marijuana Policy Project, which contributed $268,000 in cash and $55,111 of in-kind staff time. The Libertas Institute contributed $135,000, and hemp-infused Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps donated $50,000. Non-profit patient group Our Story contributed $49,000 and DKT Liberty Project put in $35,000.
With the exception of Drug Safe Utah, most campaign finance activity surrounding the race has slowed significantly following the announcement last month of a deal to pass a compromise medical cannabis bill through the legislature after Election Day.
The committees supporting the initiative were heavily out-funded in cash funding, by a ratio of 18 to one. Healthy and Productive North Dakota, which opposes the measure, accounted for more than half of the total funds raised, even though it didn’t start raising money until October. It raised a total of $226,234, entirely from SAM, which also supplied $237,234 of in-kind support.
North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Marijuana raised a total of $163,180, almost two-thirds of that in October. Big donors last month included the North Dakota Petroleum Council with $30,000, and the Greater North Dakota Chamber, which contributed $10,000 on top of their $30,000 donation in September. The Associated General Contractors of North Dakota dropped in $10,000. Outdoor sports magnate Steve Scheels contributed $10,000 personally, and $9,500 through the Scheels corporation.
Pro-legalization group LegalizeND raised only $19,754 in cash, but received another $67,264 in in-kind services. A separate group, Legalize North Dakota, appears to have raised approximately $12,750, but the reports it filed are not consistent.
After all the money that has been spent across the four states, the decision is in the hands of voters. Within hours, the ballots will be counted, and the effectiveness of the funds contributed and spent on both sides of the various measures in the four states can be evaluated.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
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: