A heartbreaking story by Laura Burke at http://www.texasobserver.org/. Chris Cain, a paralyzed man in the Woodlands area of East Texas has been raided and persecuted multiple times for using Cannabis as the medication for him. The “Zero Tolerance” drug policy of the Sheriff in this story is a joke and is indicative of how backwards the entire system is. Here is a man who didn’t let his disability dishearten him or stop him from striving for what he wanted. He graduated valedictorian of his high school and got his college degree after facing more hardship than most will face in a lifetime, and yet he is now looked on as a criminal in his area when in actuality, he’s a hero. Whenever someone tells you “you hardly even get arrested for it anymore”, point out a story like Chris’s and hope it sinks in how much this failed policy still needs to be completely overhauled. Here in Texas, letting your Legislators know what you want them to put up for vote in the House and Senate is our only option. With no ballot initiative or statewide referendums, we who can vote need to bring in people who will be willing to fight for what is right and to know that there won’t be a backlash from their entire support base if they support this sadly controversial issue. Here’s a segment of Laura’s article, click on the link after the quotations to read it in full. Peace and Good Buds.
“Cain’s problems with the Hardin County sheriff’s department began in 1999, he says. The police came by his house and said they wanted to talk to him, he remembers. They had heard that people had been smoking marijuana at his place. “I let them come in my house and search,” he says. “They uncovered a pipe and gave me a paraphernalia charge, and that was that. From then, it’s been nonstop.”
At 9:03 a.m. on July 18, 2003, deputies from Hardin and from the Jefferson County drug task force raided Cain’s home and music studio. Aside from an incident report, other information about the raid has been destroyed. After agents broke down Cain’s door, a woman who was arrested with Cain but asked not to be identified in this article says she kept asking for a search warrant. Officers declined to show it to her. She recalls one of the deputies yelling, “Shut up. If you ask again, I’ll staple it to your fucking forehead.”
Cain had just built his studio. “I guess, to them, it looked like I’d moved in a crystal meth lab, because they were, like, asking where the crystal meth was. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I gave them the misdemeanor amount of weed I had,” he says. According to the police report, the raid turned up just under 2 ounces of marijuana, including “marijuana stems” and “partially burned marijuana cigars (blunts)” on Cain’s property. They confiscated a kitchen scale and $2,125 in cash, which Cain says was money to pay a contractor who had built a handicap ramp at his house. At the time, Chris was learning to brew beer and says he used the scale to weigh ingredients. Cain’s lawyer proved the money was legal, and the police returned it.
Officers also seized thousands of dollars worth of Cain’s computer equipment. “I watched them literally chuck everything into the back of a truck,” he says. The affidavit states that while Coy Collins, a Hardin County deputy, was executing a marijuana search warrant, he observed “numerous devices affiant knows are used in the fraudulent creation and programming of satellite receiver cards … in order to fraudulently obtain satellite service.”
Cain calls the accusation “bullshit.” He was using the equipment, he says, as part of his work researching the use of smart cards for event-ticketing, so he had several card readers around. He was never charged with any crime related to the seizure, but it was a year before his lawyer obtained an order for the sheriff’s office to return the property, which was Cain’s livelihood. Most of the equipment and hard drives were damaged, Cain says. “I’ve spent every year since that 2003 raid trying to build my company back to where it was,” he says.
After the raid, Cain was arrested and booked into a holding cell at the county jail. The cell was not handicapped-accessible, and he had no one to help him relieve his bladder or bowels, he says, though he asked for help. Around 5 p.m., after being held for seven hours, a jail nurse arrived to evaluate his needs. He told her he needed help relieving himself, that he couldn’t eat without adaptive equipment and that he needed sedatives to calm his spasms. The nurse told him he could take care of himself. Late that night, he was released. He spent days recovering from an extended bladder and bleeding around his catheter, he says.
The raid enabled Hardin County to prove just how tough it could be on recreational users. Investigator Ernest Sharp reminded citizens in the Silsbee Bee, “If you are caught with illegal drugs, no matter the amount, you will go to jail.”
Cain’s marijuana case never made it to court. A “big wig came to town,” Cain says. Greg Gladden, who formerly presided over the ACLU of Texas, dashed in from Houston and told a county judge if the county prosecuted Cain, Gladden would establish that officers hadn’t had probable cause to execute the warrant. The county decided to drop the charges. “The information was ‘stale’ at the time it was presented to the judge,” Gladden says. “There is no information in the four corners of the affidavit rising to the level of probable cause to [indicate] there was dope on the premises at that time.”
Still upset, Cain wanted to file a civil suit against the county for the loss of property and income, but his lawyer discouraged him. Gladden was satisfied the criminal charges had been dropped, and he was not optimistic they could win the civil suit. “Those are hard cases,” he says.
Seven years later, Cain still feels the social fallout from the raid. When he became paralyzed, all of Kountze stood behind him, he says. “They support you. They say, ‘This is a supersmart kid,’” He says. When people heard he was using marijuana, and his name appeared in a drug bust article in the local newspaper, his reputation sank. “They see a guy that, ‘Oh, he graduated good, went to college, but he must have given up because of his injury,’” he says. “They don’t see me as someone that’s educated, that’s using marijuana so that I can live a normal life, have a business. I’ve been very successful, but to this small town I’m just a drug user.” ”
to read the entire article, click here.
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