Should a terminally ill cancer patient in Missouri have been been subjected to a search of his personal belongings because a hospital employee claimed that the smell of marijuana had emanated from the patient’s room? Furthermore, what rights do terminally ill patients have to relieve pain that they are suffering during their final days.
Viral Facebook Video
The controversy began when Nolan Sousley, a Stage 4 pancreatic cancer patient who recently stopped chemotherapy livestreamed a video on his Facebook Page, Nolan’s Tribe of Warriors Against Cancer. The video showed local police officers in Bolivar, Missouri rifling through his belongings in an attempt to find marijuana. Someone at Citizens Memorial Hospital, where Sousley is being treated, called police to complain that they smelled marijuana coming from his room. The hospital does not allow smoking or vaping on its premises.
On the video, Sousley can be seen telling the police that he doesn’t want them searching his belongings because he did not have any marijuana and that the contents of his bags contained his end-of-life preparations. Sousley also tells the officers that he had recently taken a capsule containing THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive component of marijuana, to manage his pain. A discussion ensues between the legality of medical marijuana and the fact that Sousley doesn’t have much time to live.
The State of Medical Marijuana in Missouri
One of the Bolivar officers indicated that medical marijuana is still illegal, but that is not exactly true. In November 2018, Missouri voters passed Amendment 2, a provision to legalize medical marijuana in the state. That provision went into effect December 6, 2018.
The state of medical marijuana in Missouri is temporarily in legal limbo, however, as state officials are in the process of setting up the procedures for qualifying patients along with dispensaries. Under the law, Sousley would qualify because of his status as a terminal patient.
A woman identified as Sousley’s doctor questioned whether police had the right to search for cannabis. Maybe not. Possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis has been legal in Missouri since 2014.