Charges Dropped in Case of Cancer Patient’s Confiscated Marijuana
Police officers raided a terminally ill cancer patient’s hospital room and confiscated his vape pen. It turns out that compassion can still be exercised, in spite of antiquated laws in Kansas.
Greg Bretz, a 69 year old cancer patient at Hays Medical Center was using THC products to ease his symptoms. Greg is in the final stages of an inoperable form of cancer, mostly immobilized, and unable to stand on his own. His doctor approved of his use of marijuana, instructing him to take advantage of whatever might help make his final weeks of life more comfortable.
Unfortunately, a hospital employee phoned the police. Law enforcement showed up to his room and confiscated his vape pen, which was turned over by hospital personnel. Greg was also using THC paste. They may have made a valid point about the risks of using a vape device in a hospital setting, but there’s virtually no risk to others for using non-smokable/vape products. Officers cited Greg with possession of drugs and a court date was set for early January. It is essentially impossible for him to make a court appearance. There’s also no guarantee that the judicial system would take his health condition and limited time into consideration.
According to Hays PD Chief Scheibler, the officer rightfully so didn’t feel right about issuing the ticket. The officer was only doing his sworn duty, but I’m sure this case weighed heavy. The police department requested to the prosecutor that the charges be dismissed, and the city attorney obliged.
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Chief Scheibler summarized it best when he told KSN, “We shouldn’t have laws on the books that we don’t want enforced, and if we want us to be compassionate, if we want us to help people, we have to address this issue in some fashion.” The Chief is right, there’s been a push recently for law enforcement to be more compassionate and help people rather than policing lives. Laws need to be changed too and hopefully the Kansas Legislature will address this topic as soon as possible.
This story went viral immediately, outraged cannabis activists, and thrust Kansas’ heartless cannabis laws into the spotlight yet again. It is deeply sad that Greg and his family have had to deal with this during the holidays and Greg’s final days.
I applaud the Hays Police Department and attorney for doing the right thing. This story isn’t unique. Patients have fled Kansas for places where access to medical marijuana isn’t restricted. Many Kansans risk jail time and hefty fines for going out of state to obtain cannabis. This issue isn’t about getting high, it’s about the freedom to choose a plant remedy for ailments.
As the Kansas Legislature convenes soon, I hope they seriously consider the story of Greg Bretz and others in similar situations when crafting medical marijuana legislation. I hope that Senate President Ty Masterson finds the compassion in his heart that law enforcement officers felt when asking for the charges to be dropped.