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  • Flanary Law Firm Providing Pro Bono Help to Grandpa Fighting Marijuana Charges

Flanary Law Firm Providing Pro Bono Help to Grandpa Fighting Marijuana Charges

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We heard Phillip Blanton’s story and knew the Flanary Law Firm needed to help him.

Texans consider ourselves freedom-loving people, but in one major respect, Californians have us beat.

Phillip Blanton saw the ugly side of Texas on his trip to visit his now 21-year-old granddaughter in the midst of her battle with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the Houston Methodist Hospital Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Mr. Blanton is a 67-year-old medical marijuana user and Californian who thought marijuana might help his granddaughter, too. On his drive from Newman, California, he was stopped by Texas state troopers in Wise County, north of Dallas. Police, suspicious of anyone driving through Small Town, Texas with California plates, pulled Blanton into their cop car, questioned him about drugs, and threatened to call their K9 unit. Blanton succumbed to pressure and admitted he may have a smoking pipe in the car. With this probable cause, police instituted a full search, ultimately finding marijuana cookies and raw marijuana, and—for cruelty’s sake—also illegally confiscated prescription drugs for which Blanton had proper documentation.

Police took no pity on the grandpa.

Blanton was booked like any other criminal. Housed overnight and released on bail, with a parting gift from Wise County of two serious criminal charges: possession of over four ounces of marijuana, an offense potentially punishable by a state jail felony, and possession of more than 2 grams of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2—the charge for the cookies—which is a second degree felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison.

The arrest threw Blanton into a tailspin. His family posted bail. He could not get out of bed for ten days. He ached from pain and no longer had either marijuana or prescription painkillers for relief. He constantly needed to phone his therapist in California to keep from falling apart. He feared driving. Anxiety weighed heavily on him until several days after returning to California.

Phillip may have been naïve to think his marijuana would be looked upon kindly by Texas law enforcement, but he’s not naïve about the plant’s benefits. He’s been a medical marijuana user for over ten years. The plant helps him cope with a lifelong source of pain: a childhood bout with polio that continues to affect his back, his body, and his psyche.

California legalized medical marijuana in 1996—the first state in the country to do so. Phillip did not take advantage of the “alternative” medicine—you know, the one that’s never led to an overdose death in thousands of years of human use—until 2003, not sure if he trusted the plant or wanted to be in a registry. But the benefits were impossible to ignore. Each year he checks in with doctors to ensure he’s still responsibly using.

Blanton cares about responsible use. In fact, he used to be a drug counselor in prisons. As a Pentecostal minister, Blanton even had a program at his church where inmates were released to him for substance abuse counseling. Regarding marijuana, Blanton knows it could serve a welcome role in getting people off more addictive drugs.

Now, Blanton finds himself in the same position as the people in his treatment program, except he doesn’t have a “problem” the state needs to solve. He has a medical condition that he and his doctors are attempting to ameliorate with continued medical care.

More and more people like Blanton who want access to medical freedom are leaving Texas for one of the 28 states with medical marijuana. These are parents to epileptic children, cancer patients, veterans with PTSD, and people with Crohn’s disease. They are regular people who want new solutions for their kids with autism or for their muscle spasticity. Many people at the end of their lives want medical marijuana in hospice care. And those that can’t leave choose between breaking the law or suffering.

Who is naïve? Californians? Or Texans who employ numerous police officers, jail staff, judges, attorneys, and clerks to take down grandpa bringing medicine for his sick granddaughter?

Check out other media coverage of Mr. Blanton's story:
Houston Chronicle
KHOU
ABC 13

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