Death of a Marijuana Caregiver
In 2011, the DEA raided medical marijuana growers and dispensaries across Montana. My dad, Richard Flor, one of the partners of Montana Cannabis, was arrested. Medical marijuana was legal under state law at the time, but federal laws dictated that he be sentenced to five years in prison.
A Vietnam vet with numerous health problems, my dad was supposed to be sent to a medical facility, but he never made it. Instead, he sat in general population inside a private prison for four months, his health rapidly deteriorating. He suffered from broken bones, severe stomach pain, unstable blood sugar and much more. Prison staff ignored most of his cries for help, accusing him of faking his symptoms. It was only when he was being transported from one facility to the next and suffered a major heart attack that he was rushed to the hospital.
Doctors said he would not live. With my mother also arrested and incarcerated, it was up to me to take my dad off life support. As he took his last breaths, I knew that I had to walk out of the hospital and immediately start fighting against the drug war that killed him. I also eventually discovered that my dad’s cause of death had been undiagnosed colon cancer. He had been suffering with no pain medicine or treatment.
My mom was denied compassionate release and was forced to mourn my dad in prison, where she remains. In the meantime, I have made good on my vow. Today, I am fighting for the prisoners my dad left behind. The thought of another caregiver dying in federal custody like my father did kills me. Nobody deserves to go to jail or die shackled to a hospital bed because of a plant.
The Drug War Endangers Police
Although I’ve always had fleeting thoughts about the ineffectiveness of our nation’s longest war, the “war on drugs,” it took twenty-four years of policing to begin a focused analysis.
I spent the majority of my career enforcing drug laws, working undercover and as a drug enforcement commander for the Maryland State Police. It was after I retired that I felt the pain of losing a very close friend to drug prohibition violence.
Maryland State Trooper Ed Toatley was working undercover while assigned to an FBI task force. On October 30, 2000, Ed was making one last buy of cocaine from a midlevel dealer before the planned takedown and arrest. But the dealer had other plans, which would enable him to keep both the money and the drugs. He shot Ed at point-blank range in the side of his head during the transaction, killing him.
It was not long afterward that I was scouring the Internet for supporting facts about the failed drug war and came across the new website for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, founded in 2002. I reached out to LEAP and, a few years later, joined its speakers’ bureau. Since then, I have not looked back. I’ve been in favor of legalizing all drugs since 2008. The way I see it, the more dangerous we believe a drug to be, the more need we have for its regulation and control rather than the criminalization of its users.