and Pat Major
Chronic pain and cancer patient
convicted felons on probation
charged with marijuana cultivation
Photo: Norm and Pat were forced to plead guilty to a
felony and pay a $23,500 fine to save their family home from
Norm and Pat Major have three children and eight
grandchildren. Norm is a former member of the board of
governors at the Elks Club. Pat spends time working at the
Altar Society at St. Peters Catholic Church. Because he
"wanted a life," Norm and Pat Major have now become felons
in Oregon, where state law does not distinguish between
medical and non-medical marijuana use.
Back in 1966, an industrial accident in which a
scaffolding fell on Norm's lower back caused recurring
tumors to occur in his back. Two years later, as a result of
painful complications, he was forced to undergo a hind
quarter amputation, sacrificing a leg and half of his
This was just the beginning of their long ordeal. In
1972, the cancer spread to a lung, which was removed.
Recurring cancers, including a brain tumor, led to repeated
surgeries. Medical records show Norm had more than 80
surgeries, including two to cut nerves to reduce pain. He
built up tolerance for legally prescribed pain-killers. At
one time, he required 600 milligram doses of morphine every
three to four hours.
"I couldn't get out of bed because I was so drugged. I
was more dead than alive. I took tons of stuff just to go to
sleep." Addicted to legal drugs, Norm developed the
temperamental behavior and physical symptoms typical of
users of opiate-based street drugs. "I was a druggie. It was
a nightmare." Pat agrees, "I had no life, either. It was all
driven by Norman and the drugs."
Thirteen years ago, several doctors recommended that he
try marijuana. The decision to do so was very difficult for
the couple, requiring a lot of praying and crying, but they
tried it and it worked. Marijuana made Norm's muscles relax
which relieved the pain.
After a few months, Norm got off all of his prescription
drugs. In the following years, he resumed his life, able to
pursue hobbies such as refinishing furniture. To avoid the
criminal market, the couple grew 36 cannabis plants in an
indoor garden in their basement until an informant reported
them to the police, leading to a raid and subsequent
"You have these people, who are otherwise pillars of
their community, who were sentenced because he wanted a
life," said defense attorney Rich Mullen.