Thursday, March 27, 2008

Amarillo medical marijuana case


AMARILLO -- A local jury rules against the established law and in favor of a man using marijuana for medical reasons.

On Tuesday, the Potter County jury took just minutes to decide the case. But for one man, and perhaps many more down the road, the impact of the decision is anything but small.

This is a ProNews 7 exclusive.

Tim Stevens has HIV. He has been battling the virus since 1986 and is thankful it has not progressed to AIDs. But he still suffers. One problem: cyclic vomiting.

"You go through cycles of extreme nausea and that's pretty horrible," said Stevens.

The only remedy that has eased his pain is doctor-recommended marijuana.

"There are situations where this is the only avenue to take once you've gone through the medical gamut," said Stevens.

In October, Stevens felt a cycle starting and bought ten dollars worth of marijuana. An anonymous tip led to his arrest for possession. But officers did not have to arrest Stevens, they could have written him a ticket.

"Potter County has chosen not to follow the state law that says they could write tickets for people like this but instead arrest and jail them," said Stevens' lawyer Jeff Blackburn.

Stevens spent a couple of hours in jail, then made bond. The ordeal could have been concluded, but Stevens felt he had to fight the full battle first and take the issue to trial to get the decision reversed.

"There's a lot of work to be done and people need not be so afraid of people with HIV," said Stevens. "It's not going to leap across the room at you. There's a lot of work to be done in the medical field and with the government."

Stevens' lawyer helped him on his mission of principle.

"That's democracy in action," said Blackburn.

Stevens hopes it is a mission that will help others in the future.

"For chemo patients, multiple sclerosis and such," said Stevens.

With all he has been through he says it is the lack of compassion he encountered in the harsh judgement system that hurts him most.

"I think there was maybe a lack of understanding or knowledge about any of my issues," said Stevens. "There certainly seemed to be a lack of compassion."

So what happens now for Stevens?

He says he will not smoke marijuana illegally anymore. He is going to try a pill substitute with a lower success rate. To use marijuana legally, he will have to move to New Mexico.


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