‘Does it make sense to lock up a man in a wheelchair?’

Apr 26, 2010

Florida, John Haring, painkillers, prescription drugs, victims

I got a call last week about this absolutely tragic story in Florida, which is as good an example of the senseless nature of our nation’s marijuana laws as any I have ever seen.

John Haring, 45, is a quadriplegic who suffers daily from chronic pain, arthritis, spasm attacks, and depression. He uses marijuana to treat his condition, and after two marijuana arrests in two years, he’s now heading to jail for 90 days, after which he’ll be forced to undergo three years of probation and drug testing. If he tests positive for marijuana in just one of those tests, he could face up to five years in jail.

Haring and his relatives say legal prescription painkillers left him “drugged, depressed and in an angry stupor.” Using marijuana, on the other hand, “allowed him to live his life,” according to the St. Petersburg Times. “He could drive his pickup and earn extra money hauling boats and classic cars. He had relationships again. Five years ago, he had children of his own.”

As this compelling article goes on to point out, “Prescription drugs kill six Floridians a day … and the number of deaths is increasing at five times the rate of illegal drugs.”

I’d try to boil down the idiocy of laws that punish Haring for using marijuana, a safe drug with proven medical efficacy, and instead push him toward more harmful prescription drugs, but Haring’s lawyer has already done a pretty good job: “They take away from him the one thing that has worked and force him to take something more toxic,” John Trevena told the Times. “There's no logic to it.”