Colo. cancer patient faces incarceration for medical marijuana

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Friday, September 09, 2011 at 9:10 am | More from The Colorado Independent

Bob Crouse has leukemia. He used to have medical marijuana. Then the police came to his house and took it away. Today, he faces felony charges for cultivating marijuana with the intent to distribute.

He has a medical marijuana card as well as a doctor’s recommendation to grow as many as 75 plants. He needs that much, he says, because smoking the occasional joint or eating the occasional brownie has never been known to cure cancer. What many proponents of medical marijuana believe does cure cancer–at least in some cases–is the oil that can be created by boiling a pound or more of bud at a time and reducing that pound to about one ounce of oil. Many in the medical marijuana field swear that ingesting about a gram a day of this oil–commonly known as phoenix tears–can have a profound effect on cancer and some other serious medical conditions.

Bob Crouse, right, with Chaz Moore aka Bill Smith and Shan Moore outside the El Paso County Courthouse before Crouse's araignment. (Image: Cannabis Therapy Institute)

Buying medical marijuana in such quantities is not only nearly impossible, but is also prohibitively expensive for many ill people. Hence the grow your own culture of phoenix tears users.

“Buying it was not an option,” Crouse says.

“I was just trying to grow the quantity of medicine I needed to medicate myself. I never had any intent to distribute,” Crouse told the Colorado Independent. “They think I was part of an underground network, but I think I was within my rights. They thought I was a criminal. I tell you it was real intimidating when they showed up with eight or ten agents. I’m a sixty-three-year-old leukemia patient fighting for the right to fight for my life.”

Crouse says it wasn’t just his medicine the police took in May, it was also his therapy.

“You can lose yourself in a little garden. When I was in there working with my plants I would forget all about what was going on inside my body,” he recalls.

“I was beating it,” he says of the cancer. “The effect medical marijuana had on me, on my life, was huge. I felt like I was being healed. I could feel it working in my body.

“A cancer patient has to hope if he is going to make it,” Crouse says. “The medical marijuana gave me hope. Stress makes cancer worse. Everyday I try to eliminate stress from my life. I am fortunate to have a relationship with God. I am a man of faith. I have a strong faith in my creator. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without that faith.

“This is a journey I didn’t choose,” Crouse said. “If I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t be using marijuana and I wouldn’t be facing incarceration.”

Looking back on the day his home was raided, he says, “I know now never to invite the police into your home. When I was a kid, the police were there to serve and protect. It’s totally different now,” he says.

When the police left that day, they took his plants, but it wasn’t until two weeks later that Crouse was arrested.

When he faced the judge for the first time in August, he was greeted out in front of the courthouse by a throng of supporters including Chaz “I am Bill Smith” Moore, and fellow prosecutee Jason Lauve of Boulder who has been acquitted of similar charges. They marched in front of the courthouse, waving signs and giving speeches before jamming the small courtroom to overflow status, all to no avail as judge Tim Schultz set the case for trial later this year.

“I’m here to support the right of cancer patients everywhere,” said Lauve from his wheelchair. “People have a right to health. They have a right to follow their doctor’s recommendation. They have a right to choose how to take care of their health. This is not an issue that should come before the courts. We know what cannabis can do. It is disheartening to see the DA going after cancer patients,” Lauve said.

Lauve uses marijuana both for the pain associated with a broken back and also because he believes that in high enough doses it can heal the nerves in his back. He has also counseled Crouse both on the medical uses of cannabis and on legal points.

Lauve said he uses doses that are “ten times what is in a brownie. “It has a tremendous effect on my health, said Luave, adding that because of cannabis he has been able to get off of pharmaceuticals.

“Why is the government telling us what we can put in our bodies?” he asks. “Using cannabis is not wrong,” he said.

“He has the right to make a choice. He has the right to follow the recommendations of his doctor,” Lauve insists.

Crouse was in the restaurant business until he became too ill to work, having owned Yakibob’s in Colorado Springs for about a dozen years. When he couldn’t do it anymore, he was pleased to turn the restaurant over to a friend and fellow restaurateur who kept the business going.

“My employees kept their jobs and my landlord kept the space rented, so I’m grateful for that,” he says. Prior to opening Yakibob’s, Crouse was an Arby’s franchisee, running restaurants in several nearby states.

Since his marijuana plants were confiscated, Crouse has been relying on friends and people in the medical marijuana community to provide him with medicine, but the supply has not been consistent. He’s also been getting angry. “I try not to spend time in anger because it doesn’t serve anything.”

“My whole goal is to cure the cancer that I’ve got. I am out begging for medicine, and that is so frustrating because I had my own medicine. My friends have been coming through, but I can’t count on that forever.”

He consults with a well know physician, who like him, is convinced that cannabis can cure his cancer.

Crouse notes that if nothing else, his case does seem to rattle cages. “My situation has started a lot of conversations. People are voicing their outrage, and I guess that’s good. I do a lot of soul searching, trying to make sure I’m in a good place faith-wise. This whole situation just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

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