Medical Marijuana

Where is the compassion?

Joe Pinson

asthma patient

served a 5 year sentence

charged with marijuana cultivation



Joe Pinson's mother, Regina, and grandmother, Amy, testify to all the time they spent taking care of Joe as a child, due to his severe, life-threatening bouts with asthma. Many were the times they had to rush him to the hospital as he was turning gray, unable to breathe. He missed so much school one year that he was held back a grade, and they got a private tutor to work with him at home.

Drug after pharmaceutical drug did not help much. When Joe was 18, his episodes suddenly stopped. For the first time, he was able to breathe and lead a normal life. Finally, his family thought, he must have grown out of it.

Agents began investigating Joe in 1991 after he bought some growing equipment. His home utility records showed high electrical usage. The DEA, without a search warrant, scanned his Missouri property using a heat-sensing, infrared device from a helicopter. Agents got a warrant and found 150 marijuana plants in his attic. That's how his mother and grandmother found out that Joe had not outgrown his asthma, but was using marijuana as medicine to control it.

They seized the family home and his mother had to pay $25,000 to get her own house back. When Pinson's lawyer protested that the DEA fly-over had violated his Fourth Amendment rights by unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant, the judge ruled that he had no reasonable expectation that the invisible heat radiating from his home was private.

Joe was handed a five year mandatory minimum sentence for growing his medicine. In prison, they did not give him his medicine of choice. Instead, they prescribed him hard drugs, such as steroids, with known harmful side effects.

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