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Ailing Man To Feds: Give Back My Pot


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Aurora -- Dana May is an imposing figure, but a severe nerve ailment and federal authorities are bringing him to his knees. The only remedy that works for his chronic pain, he said, is the medical marijuana those authorities seized from his home in late May.
Standing 6-feet-8 and weighing 300 pounds, May said he can't walk, stand or sit without excruciating pain in his back, lower legs and feet. He says the depression that the pain causes him literally could kill him.

May, 45, has taken morphine, methadone, Demerol and an assortment of painkillers since 1996. He tried acupuncture, but neither it nor the drugs brought any significant relief.

Nearly two years ago May learned of Colorado's new medical marijuana law that voters approved in 2000. He met with his neurologist, Lynn Parry, to discuss trying marijuana to relieve the pain caused by his condition, reflex sympathetic dystrophy. May's doctor gave him her blessings, signing the legal forms that allowed May to grow and smoke marijuana.

"Mr. May had tried every known medication for his condition, and he tried medical marijuana as a last resort and only upon my recommendation," Parry wrote in an affidavit.

May said that when he smokes marijuana, it doesn't leave him pain-free, but it does make him feel much more comfortable than he's felt during the last eight years. He said his condition was caused by injuries he suffered in a 1995 accident when he was truck driver.

"The marijuana is so much better, and I don't know why that is," said May, who often walks gingerly around in his home in his shorts and bare feet. He said that when he wears socks and pants, they cause an additional burning sensation in his legs and feet.

"It kind of dulls (the pain) because nothing takes the pain away. It knocks it down enough for me to function, to see the kids play sports," he said.

When he smoked his marijuana, May said he did it in the basement of his home where he grew his plants and where his three children, ages 15 and 9-year-old twins, can't gain access.

But someone told federal and local authorities about the marijuana plants inside May's Aurora home.

While May was preparing to pick up his children from school May 27, he noticed a couple of Aurora police cars speeding to his home, which is at the end of a cul-de-sac.

Then he saw more patrol and unmarked cars, and police officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents with their guns drawn.

When they asked May where his marijuana was, he told them his plants were in the basement and displayed his medical marijuana "patient" and "caregiver" documents. Nonetheless, the agents took away his 109.1 grams of dried and usable marijuana and 31 pieces of equipment, including transformers, water pumps, cloning machines and exhaust fans that he used to grow his supply.

But May got a break when the Arapahoe County district attorney's office informed his lawyer, Robert J. Corry Jr., last month that it was not going to prosecute May for possession and cultivation of marijuana.

Prosecutors said the case would have been difficult to prove because May tried to comply with Colorado's medical marijuana law. They also said they had no evidence May was distributing the drug.

Following the district attorney's decision, May's lawyer wrote to the DEA's asset forfeiture section last Wednesday demanding that the agency return his client's marijuana and his growing equipment, which is valued at about $3,000.

Jeffrey Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said federal authorities definitely will not return May's marijuana.

"Any marijuana in custody of the DEA is considered contraband and prohibited under federal law," -Dorschner said.

May's case is the latest that pits federal anti-drug laws against state laws approved by voters that legally permit seriously ill people to smoke marijuana on the theory that it reduces their pain and suffering.

"The case is really about respect for the voters of Colorado, and the federal government needs to respect our voters," Corry said. "Dana is guilty of no crime except for suffering from an extremely debilitating disease."

Note: Aurora resident lost marijuana to agents, despite Colorado law.

Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Author: Hector Gutierrez, Rocky Mountain News
Published: August 3, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Denver Publishing Co.
Contact: letters@denver-rmn.com
Website: Rocky Mountain News - A vital source for news and information in Denver and the Rocky Mountain area.
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