Man wants police to return medical marijuana

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 7:07 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In a case one Kansas judge says is unprecedented, a Colorado man living in Wichita, wants the Kansas Highway Patrol to return his medical marijuana that was confiscated during a 2019 traffic stop.

Paul Johnson says he was staying in Wichita when he asked a friend returning from Colorado to bring him a bag full of clothes he’d left there. He says that friends grabbed the wrong bag. Instead of clothes, it was filled with 6.5 pounds of marijuana. On the trip back, his friend was pulled over by Kansas Highway Patrol and charged with possessing the drug. Johnson later claimed the marijuana was his and his friend was convicted of a lesser crime...but Johnson says no one should be charged with a crime because he obtained the marijuana legally, and he wants it back.

"I want my medicine back," Johnson said while sitting at a booth inside a Wichita juice bar. "That's my medicine. Give it back."

Johnson says he broke his back in a serious car accident in 1994. Since then, he says the pain he experiences is unbearable.

"It feels like barbed wire tangled around my back all the time," he said. "That's what I live with on a daily basis with this."

After a while, Johnson says the traditional means being used to treat his painn were doing more harm than good.

"I was treated in the standard way that we all are you know you go to the doctor my back hurts my back hurts my back hurts, they increase your opioids and your muscle relaxers. And then you've got steroid injections and all the things and I found no real relief of any of those things," he explained.

Johnson turned to medical grade marijuana, something he obtained a prescription for in Colorado where medical marijuana is legal. The problem is Kansas, where the marijuana was discovered and confiscated by the highway patrol, is one of 17 states in the U.S. where medical marijuana does not exist, according to Wichita attorney, Charley O'Hara.

"The law in the state of Kansas says you cannot have any marijuana for any purpose, period, and that's the law," O'Hara said.

O'Hara has no connection to the case that will go before a judge in Russell, Kansas on September 22. There, he plans to tell the court, possibly for the first time in the state's history, he expects the highway patrol to return his marijuana.

Johnson says he believes the marijuana has already been destroyed and he’s representing himself in the case more to make a statement that laws need to change in the state. Regardless of the outcome though, a statement will be made, as the judge in the case has said on record that the decision will set precedent for similar cases for years to come.

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