In the latest example of law enforcement resources being ridiculously misused, police raided the hospital room of a man dying from cancer in search of marijuana.
The incident took place at Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar, Missouri, where Nolan Sousley was receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer. The Stage 4 cancer patient has been taking capsules of THC oil on his own to help manage pain as a safer alternative to opioids.
A medical marijuana bill recently passed in Missouri, but the new regulations are not yet in place. Unfortunately, when you’re facing pancreatic cancer, time is not on your side, so Sousley decided not to wait for formalities. He says the pills also help with his nausea and appetite. According to Sousley, his doctors are aware that he takes the pills, but he does not smoke marijuana.
Yet somehow, a hospital security guard reported smelling marijuana in his room and called the police, who responded by coming to his small hospital room and rifling through all of his bags as they searched for marijuana that they never found.
The incident was videotaped and the footage has now gone viral. Many people have expressed outrage over the incident given the police officers’ attitude toward the dying man. After telling the officers it’s been legalized in the state, Sousley asks the officer what he’d do if he were in his shoes.
The officer replied: “I’m not in that situation, so I’m not gonna play these ‘what-if’ games.”
When Sousley responds, “You wouldn’t do anything to save your life?”, the officer replies in a sarcastic tone, “Marijuana is saving your life?”
It’s a frustrating exchange to say the least, especially when you consider the fact that had he been taking opioids, which kill 150 Americans each day, he wouldn’t have attracted this kind of attention.
Thankfully, a doctor intervened and asked the police if they had probable cause and whether they needed a search warrant. They claimed they “smelled marijuana,” which is virtually impossible when you consider the oil is taken in capsules. After searching all the bags, they came up empty-handed.
The public outrage over the incident was so severe that the police department reportedly deleted its Facebook page after being “inundated with negative feedback,” and a representative answering their phone said people had called her “every name in the book” over the way the police treated the man.
Sousley told the Bolivar Herald-Free Press: “I’m sick of our country, the way it is right now. I don’t support the rules they have written. I use cannabis to save my life. I have the right to try anything. How can they say I can’t? I have the right to live.”
He also told the paper that he didn’t really blame the police for doing their jobs and that he hoped the controversy could lead to positive change. He said he’d like to see politicians stop trying to limit people‘s rights to use cannabis and related products and instead focus on more pressing issues. The hospital apologized to Sousley and his family and said that they plan to re-train their employees on the importance of treating patients with dignity and respect.
It’s not surprising this story has stirred up so much public ire. Sousley should be applauded for trying a safer and potentially more effective approach to his medical problems than deadly opioids. Why are the police harassing dying cancer patients in their hospital rooms when they could be out on the streets trying to put an end to the opioid crisis?
Sources for this article include: