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Video: Missouri Police Search Cancer Patient’s Bags For Marijuana In Hospital Room

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Three police officers in Missouri went to a hospital and searched through the belongings of a man with stage-four pancreatic cancer in a fruitless attempt to find marijuana on Wednesday.

Video of the search was shared live on Facebook and has more than 350,000 views as of Friday afternoon. It shows the officers rifling through the bags of Nolan Sousley in a small hospital room where he was receiving treatment for symptoms of his terminal illness.

Sousley admitted on several occasions that he does take capsules containing THC oil. Someone else in the room said it helps him manage his pain, appetite and nausea, and he uses it as an alternative to opioid painkillers. But Sousley said he doesn’t smoke flower cannabis, and so he was confused as to why the hospital security guard, who reported smelling marijuana, called the department in the first place.

“I want to know why it’s a big deal if it is really legal in Missouri now,” Sousley said, referring the voter-approved medical cannabis legalization initiative that passed during last year’s midterm election. “Medically, in Missouri, it’s really legal now. They just haven’t finished the paperwork.”

“OK, then it’s still illegal,” an officer replied. He also said that Sousley wouldn’t be taken to jail if they discovered marijuana, but that he would be cited.

“But I don’t have time to wait for that,” Sousley said. “What would you do?”

The officers continued their search for about five minutes on the video, and at one point a medical professional entered the room and inquired about the process. She pressed the officers on whether they had probable cause or if they needed a search warrant to go through the patient’s items.

The officers said they did have a right to conduct the search. But in the end, they didn’t discover any cannabis, as explained in a follow-up Facebook video.

Marijuana Moment reached out to the Bolivar Police Department, but a representative did not respond by the time of publication.

In a statement to The Springfield News-Leader, the hospital where the search was conducted said that “due to HIPAA (federal privacy law), we are unable to comment about any specific patient, their treatment or what was done or not done in any particular situation.”

“Generally speaking, it is against the Hospital’s policy to smoke or vape on the Hospital’s campus,” the hospital representative said. “It is also our policy to call appropriate law enforcement any time Hospital personnel see or reasonably suspect illegal drug use in patient rooms or otherwise on campus.”

The police chief did not get back to the local newspaper, but a representative who answered the department’s phone said that she’d been “called every name in the book” by people expressing anger over the department’s treatment of Sousley. The department also reportedly deleted its Facebook page following the outrage.

A separate YouTube version of the video has nearly 90,000 views as of this writing. Reposts of the Facebook video have also racked up thousands of views.

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Photo courtesy of Facebook/Nolan’s Tribe of Warriors Against Cancer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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Marijuana Activists Protest John Boehner’s SXSW Speech

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Advocates for social equity in the increasingly legal marijuana economy are protesting keynote speeches by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner and MedMen CEO Adam Bierman at South by Southwest (SXSW).

The Equity First Alliance, a group that promotes racial and social justice in the cannabis industry, said that Boehner and Bierman’s scheduled Friday appearances at the festival are a reflection of an ongoing trend where mostly white men are profiting off a market while people of color continue to disproportionately face criminalization for marijuana offenses.

Via Equity First Alliance.

Boehner has been the subject of ongoing criticism from marijuana advocates, who point out that he failed to act on cannabis reform, and opposed certain criminal justice reform legislation, during his 24 years in Congress. While he never introduced, cosponsored or voted in favor of marijuana bills in that time, he joined one of the largest cannabis firms, Acreage Holdings, as a board member last year.

In fact, Boehner consistently voted against an amendment to protect medical cannabis states from federal interference.

Bierman has been accused in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of making racist and homophobic remarks. His company, which was valued at $1.6 billion last year, was also a member of a New York-based medical marijuana industry association that advocated against allowing home cultivation in a memo submitted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (The company told Marijuana Moment that it supports the right to home cultivation, but did not answer questions about its involvement in drafting the document. It was later asked to leave the group over Bierman’s alleged remarks.) Acreage remains a member of the same association.

“Our protest at SXSW sends a bold message in support of cannabis equity, justice, and repair,” the Equity First Alliance’s Felicia Carbajal said in a press release. “We stand together, recognizing that by defending the most marginalized among us, we defend all of us. We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities, and we call on all defenders of human rights to join us.”

Activists held protest signs over a nearby highway and at a hotel where Boehner’s speech—which covers “the likely paths to national legalization and the challenges and opportunities America’s fastest growing industry face today”—will take place on Friday. The signs condemn “big marijuana” and call for social equity policies such as community reinvestment.

“It’s clear this market is going to expand,” Boehner told CNBC in an interview ahead of the event. “And as it does, lawmakers in Washington have to look up and realize that the federal government is way out of step. It’s time for the federal government to get out of the way.”

In the press release, Equity First Alliance listed additional reasons they’re protesting as well as policies they support.

“In protest of:

—Those profiting off of cannabis without an intentional plan to repair and make whole individuals, families, and communities that have been devastated by the War on Drugs;
—Those profiting off of cannabis who once participated in prohibition;
—And those who would profit before freeing all cannabis prisoners and vacating all cannabis convictions

And calling for:

—10% of companies’ annual revenue to be reinvested in communities disproportionately harmed by the
War on Drugs;
—A new paradigm of social responsibility in the cannabis industry;
—And public policies that create an equitable, just, and reparative industry.”

“It’s hypocritical for an Austin based company like SXSW, a company imbedded in a city that preaches diversity and inclusion, to neglect the work of committing to create an inclusive space, and instead give a keynote platform to John Boehner,” Chas Moore, executive director of the Austin Justice Coalition, said. “This is disgusting.”

Marijuana Moment reached out to Acreage for comment, but a representative did not respond by the time of publication.

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Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

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Marijuana Tourism From China To Amsterdam: Study Sheds Light On Motivations

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Marijuana use in China is strictly forbidden. In fact, when Canada legalized cannabis last year, the Chinese government sternly reminded its citizens living in or visiting the country to “please avoid contact or using marijuana.”

Yet, despite their nation’s strict views on marijuana, research shows that significant numbers of Chinese tourists are heading to Amsterdam to take part in its prolific cannabis culture. A new study published in the journal Current Issues in Tourism sheds light on some of the motivations for the cross-continental cannatourism.

The punishment for drug use of any kind in China, including marijuana, is up to 15 days in detention and mandatory rehabilitation, the study’s authors write. But the Chinese government has been known to enforce harsher sentences for other cannabis-related charges. For example, Jaycee Chan, the son of actor Jackie Chan, spent six months in a Beijing jail after police discovered more than 100 grams in his apartment.

Because Chinese citizens are “widely educated to stay away from any kind of drugs,” the study states, researchers were curious to know more about who these tourists heading to the Netherlands for cannabis really were. Between February 2014 and October 2016, they randomly approached Chinese tourists in or exiting Amsterdam coffee shops where marijuana is sold over the counter and invited them to complete a confidential questionnaire. A total of 654 surveys were collected and analyzed.

About 80 percent of respondents said they’d never tried marijuana prior to their trip to Amsterdam.

Participants were divided into three segments based on their responses: cannabis enthusiasts, diversionists/recreationists (people who were seeking pleasure or a diversion from their daily lives) and people who were simply curious about cannabis culture.

Survey responses from the first and third groups “demonstrate that Chinese drug tourists desire to ‘experience all’ and seek authenticity out of their normal daily life and society during the overseas travel,” the study authors wrote.

The largest number of tourists surveyed (almost 44 percent) fell into the category of diversionist/recreationist. In other words, they used cannabis as a way to enjoy their vacation—not unlike tourists from other countries.

“They travelled and consumed cannabis mostly for the sake of experiencing/experimenting with the local cannabis culture in Amsterdam as well as relaxation, pleasure, and to escape from stressful social environments,” the authors write.

Cannabis enthusiasts were the smallest segment of the sample. In terms of demographics, almost half of the survey respondents were women. Overall, a majority of participants reported being college-educated, under 35 years old and not married.

In a recent interview, lead study author Jun Wen discussed why Chinese tourists are especially attracted to the Netherlands.

“You can do a lot of things there that are illegal in China – gambling, paying for sexual services, and buying cannabis for recreational use,” he said. “So Chinese tourists want to go there to find a different way to relax that’s not traditional.”

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

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Congressman Talks Cannabis With ‘Captain America’

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Actor Chis Evans of “Captain America” fame met with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on Friday, and the two discussed marijuana reform, among other issues.

The congressman, who is a long-standing champion of loosening federal cannabis laws and outlined a blueprint to federal legalization last year, said he enjoyed the conversation and that he could “do this all day” in a tweet.

The chat was “part of a project Chris is working on with several members of Congress,” a spokesperson for Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment in an email. “Earl spoke about issues that he cares about, and marijuana reform was one of them.”

“Chris asked for the basics on why it’s important, explaining the reasoning behind scheduling and what pros and cons of legalization were,” he said.

The details of Evans’s “project” are unclear. He’s met with several members of Congress in recent weeks, according to a number of tweets, but he’s declined to get into specifics when pressed. There’s speculation that he’s launching a political media organization, however.

In response to Blumenauer’s tweet, NORML asked: “How disappointed was the Captain to be unfrozen in modern times and see we are still locking up over 600,000 Americans for marijuana?”

Evans is the nephew of former Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), who lost his bid for re-election in last year’s midterm election.

Blumenauer filed a bill in January, appropriately numbered H.R. 420, which would regulate marijuana like alcohol.

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Photo courtesy of Twitter/Rep. Early Blumenauer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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