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We’ve received a red-hot tip about a very, very interesting case that came before the Brisbane Magistrates Court on the 24th of June.
It involved a middle-aged man afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, who uses small quantities of marijuana to ease his pain and fatigue. The green stuff is of course illegal, and despite the fact that it has been proven to be a panacea in a myriad of global scientific studies, it remains unattainable to those that need it for medicinal purposes, unless of course they are prepared to break the law in order to obtain it.
Which it appears that this bloke was; and who on earth could blame him?
The story we’ve been told – and we now have ample primary source evidence to back it up – is that the bloke in question suffers from the Primary-Progressive strain of the Multiple Sclerosis disease, which for those not in the know is is the worst possible strain of this terrible, debilitating bad dream that you can possibly contract.
His bad luck means that the bloke – who only a few years ago owned a courier business and led a normal Aussie life – has lost the lot, including his home and his business, and is now on the bones of his ass living in a Housing Commission unit with intellectually disabled, soup through a straw sucking folk as his neighbors – and don’t get me wrong, they’re damn good people, but the ideologically driven housing mix is a f*ck up from hell – and our bloke faces the horrible certainty of life in a wheelchair sucking soup through a straw too, but not because his brain is damaged, but simply ‘cos his hands won’t work.
It’s a fate almost worse than death, and we’re told that if the man could lift his arms above his shoulders (which due to his disease he can’t) he would almost certainly throw a rope over the nearest tree, tie a knot, and save the public health system a motza.
But he can’t, and suffering pain from dawn to dusk each day, he smokes a bit of ganja to help him make it through from dawn to dusk. The relief it affords him allows the fellow to function just a little bit, and enables him to drive down to the pub to meet his 83-year-old father for lunch once a week, and pretend that his life is just a wee tad normal.Which of course it ain’t, and never will be again; but depression is the major hidden side-effect of disability, so every little thing you can do to make a sufferer smile is worth a million dollars. Or a saved life at least.
It was after one such a lunch with his Dad, a couple of weeks before his arrest, that the crippled man staggered back to the car park on his walk-wheeler to struggle into his modified car. He carried with him a stubby of light beer that he had purchased with lunch, but was unable to drink, because the slowdown of the central nervous system attacked by the vicious MS doesn’t just shrink your life, but your ability to down a beer too.
And when you’re confined by fate to a life of relative misery, and a disability pension too, every drop of both that life and your beer is precious.
As the disabled man reached his car the bloke’s phone rang, so he put the stubby down next to his open modified door, and it sat next to he and the car as he answered the call.
Lo and behold at that very moment a crowded police car arrived, and spotting the stubby the blue and white vehicle’s occupants made the logical – but sadly mistaken – assumption that the disabled man was drunk.
In the thrall of this blissful ignorance, the three officers alighted from their marked vehicle and asked the crippled man to blow in the bag. And of course, after just half a light beer, the man blew two-thirds of bugger all.
So then, convinced they had stumbled across a master criminal, the coppers demanded that he allow them to search his vehicle; and while the man with MS sat prone in the driver’s seat – he couldn’t have got out even if he’d wanted to – the boys and girl in blue tossed his car. And there, under the driver’s seat, they found a Fish Oil bottle containing a myriad of fish oil tablets and a few small baggies of dope. Medicine and medicine, so to speak, but the coppers seemingly thought that they’d stumbled across BrisVegas’s dealer Mr Big, rather than a bloke who was such a small and impoverished buyer that he had to but his illicit medicine in penny-ante lots, and didn’t have the dexterity to unscrew the bottle in which he’d placed his highly illegal and terribly publicly dangerous haul.
They booked the poor bloke, and sent him off to a drug rehabilitation session under the Police Drug Diversion Program. The bloke went, but our reports are that it took him about 4 hours to get there and back, and that 2 of these hours were spent just trying to shower without his carer – who he was too embarrassed to tell what had occurred – and at least another hour was spent simply putting his shirt over his head.
They’re wonderful these laws we have in Queensland aren’t they?
But you ain’t seen nothing yet, for only a fortnight later the poor disabled fella was woken by a loud banging on his front door. It startled him, and if you have any knowledge whatsoever about the effect of shock to the nervous system of the MS sufferer you would have been dialling Triple O and shouting ‘Ambulance!’ right there and then.
But of course the three police officers outside his Housing Commission disabled apartment block door hadn’t been trained in understanding Multiple Sclerosis, and thus believing that Sir Terry Trafficker was inside, and armed with a warrant that permitted them to knock down the door with a sledgehammer if he didn’t struggle to his feet and inch painful step by painful step to open the door, they barked at him to do exactly that, or else Mister.Or else.
When the disabled man finally managed to struggle his way to the door they handed him a warrant, stating that they were here to arrest him for the offence of supply of the Galloping Green weed.
The bloke can hardly walk, and has cognitive disabilities that mean that he can no longer even count, let alone divide a pound into 16, or an ounce into quarters. It’s the very reason that Telstra were able to con the pensioner into an outrageously expensive – and deceptively under disclosed new mobile deal- which left the cognitively impaired bloke with an $800 phone bill just days after he had entered the shark’s store in a wheelchair, and then later spent hours on the phone talking to his girlfriend, a fellow MS sufferer who was having such a bad time she told him she was going to throw herself off a bridge.
Undeterred by any of this though – and to be fair though they didn’t know, because he was shaking too much to tell them – the tough as teak trio entered the man’s disability modified flat and started tossing the joint. Refusing his requests that they contact his doctor or his psychiatrist – or in the alternative call him an ambulance – the police instead told him to shut the f*ck up, and searched the length and breadth of his flat as he strugged just to stand and breathe.
They must have thought that they had hit the mother lode when in among the prescription class A drugs – the Heroin (Fentanyl patches), Anabolic Steroids (Prednocortisone), and Methamphetamine (Modafinil) – they found the one drug that was actually illegal, because it was un-prescribed, and the single solitary medicine that helped the man to function and eat and get through each waking nightmare of a day.
A small bowl of cannabis sativa.
The drug that MS specialists the world around laud as the panacea for the symptoms of the disease; but the one that sufferers of the nightmare have to crawl into the swamp of the criminal underworld to obtain.
How excited the three police officers must have been to justify their Mr Big warrant by charging the poor bastard with the huge-time offence of possession of a couple of grams of green leafy material. And what a buzz it must have given them to throw in the possession of a utensil – a pipe, used by the disabled man to take his medicine because he can’t obtain it legally in capsule form, and his crippled hands don’t permit him to roll it into joints – and a ‘thing’, a coffee grinder he uses to chop the green leafy material up in to ingestible chunks, for the same reason that he can’t roll it into joints.
Is this the best our police force can do? Is this what our crazy laws lead us to? Sinking the boot into a bloke who has already lost everything, and is just trying to survive through the nightmare of his each waking day?
I don’t actually blame the good men and women wielding the search warrants and wearing the badge. After all, they were simply doing what they were paid to do, and upholding the law, as crazed as it is.
But my God, as a society, what the hell is wrong with us? Why do we allow these things to happen?
We do though, and so on the 24th of June the man who for the past 3 weeks had thought of nothing else – a man whose Multiple Sclerosis has progressed even further due to the shock to his nervous system, and the distress caused by the invasion of his home; a man too afraid to take the only medicine that helps, and who trembles in fear at the thought of another knock upon his door – was pushed in his wheelchair into a courtroom full of paedophiles, rapists, king-hitters and thieves.
There, armed with letters from an array of medical specialists – among them Professors, Neurologists, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers and GP’s – the man, who had taken 2 hours to shower and another to put on his clothes, pleaded guilty to the crime of trying to cope with his disease and live some semblance of a normal life by smoking a half a cone of cannabis a day, taken with food in the evening.
He has received legal advice that he was likely to be able to defend the charge, but his MS ravaged body and mind could not cope with the stress and uncertainty of a jury trial, and so instead he nodded his head.
And almost immediately upon doing so, the disabled man was given a discharge and a good behaviour bond by a Magistrate, who like me sat there shaking his head and thinking why, why, why?
What a f*cking disgrace our current laws are. What becomes of the broken hearted? Who will care for those that can’t care for themselves?
Archie Bloody Butterfly.
A man with my own disability, and a determination to end all the comrades pain.
Well may we say God help the disabled, for nothing can save a society that doesn’t give a damn.