The complications of America’s piecemeal approach to cannabis legalization are readily apparent in the case of Larry Burgess, a cancer-surviving seizure patient who has spent the last two years stuck in a trial that could result in his spending 25 years in state prison — all for growing one single pot plant.
According to local CBS affiliate KCTV, Burgess’ house was raided two years ago, with police officers discovering one lonely cannabis plant. Despite his pleas of medicinal use, Kansas cops arrested Burgess and charged him with felony drug possession.
In a video of the raid, a visibly shocked Burgess can be heard asking officers if they feel it necessary to carry heavy artillery during the underwhelming search.
“You guys are here for this?” Burgess asked. “For real? All you guys with your guns?”
As soon as he was taken into police custody, Burgess suffered a severe seizure requiring medical attention.
“The first time I tried cannabis… just waking up without having a seizure after all of those years. I was an advocate from then on,” Burgess said. “We lost our home. We lost our community. We lost our freedom in Kansas. I feel we lost a lot during this terrible ordeal.”
While he awaits his repeatedly delayed trial date, Burgess acquired a special bail provision that allowed him to relocate to Colorado, where he is now an active medical marijuana patient. But back in Kansas, where cannabis is still illegal in all forms and fashion, Burgess is still facing a quarter century in jail, with no idea when his fate will finally be determined.
“The maximum amount is 6 months shy of 25 years in prison, and it’s a hard pill to swallow,” Burgess said.
As of press time, Burgess’ trial date is still unknown. But while awaits his uncertain future, Burgess’ newfound access to legal cannabis has helped reduce his seizures from 2-3 times a day to 2-3 per week. Still, Burgess and his wife are still living everyday while waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“I don’t want to think about it,” Burgess’ wife Shannon told KCTV. “If we try to figure out what we’re going to do, we’re going to fall apart trying to figure it out.”
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