End police discrimination against legal cannabis patients in Maryland.
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Dear Governor Hogan, Maryland State Representatives and Senators,
I am writing to you today as a concerned citizen, and quite frankly; a frightened patient. To begin, my name is Ignatius
Stefanski. I served in our great Navy, served honorably, and it was all cut short when I was forced into a medical retirement
due to Crohns Disease.
I spent several years being treated with pharmaceutical medicines. Some made me vomit blood. Others exposed me to
extreme infections, such as MRSA and Clostridium Difficile, which nearly killed me. These medicines fall in the categories of
biologics and chemotherapy.
While I was in the hospital, 1 of many stays, a doctor suggested that I come off ALL the hardcore medicines, and give my body a
break and time to reset. So I began to treat myself with only cannabis. I started eating normal food and I began to put on weight, which was the first true sign that I was truly getting healthy again. I had lost roughly 50 lbs in about 2 weeks time, so putting weight back on was a blessing. I was no longer
bleeding out of my rectum. I was walking again without the assistance of my wife, or a cane. The arthritis and back issues,
that were caused by years of prednisone and other factors, that kept me from enjoying just a simple hike in the woods with my
family, was starting to ease up. I was amazed.
The last couple months of our medical cannabis program being up and running have been amazing. For patients to finally have access to such an amazing medicine is beyond anything I can describe.
So here is where I bring up my concern. It was brought to my attention, and many other patients attention, that a police officer may have over stepped his boundaries, and violated a patients rights.
As a patient was riding as a passenger in a vehicle, the vehicle was pulled over. The officer proceeded to ask for identification
for every passenger in the vehicle. No problem at all. I support our police and understand they have a job to do, and it’s
However, when the police officer returns to the vehicle after running identification checks, he makes a comment about the
patient using cannabis as medicine.
Why on earth is law enforcement looking at this information without any probable cause? I understand why police have
access to the METRC system. They absolutely need to be able to confirm that a patient is indeed legal. But that is only
suppose to be there for if an officer comes across our medicine because of a LEGAL search, with probable cause.
But to be checking the METRC system automatically, as part of a routine ID check, or to have a patient’s ID flagged as a
cannabis patient, is violating a patients privacy on several different levels.
It even concerns me that when a police officer runs someone’s tags, they are also having access to knowing if the registered
owner is a medical cannabis user. This sets up a whole world of abuse. Illegally being pulled over, just to check to see if we are
medicated. Unwanted and illegal searches, because the officer wants to see how much medicine we have on us.
And let’s get back to our current situation at hand. That officer came back to the vehicle and made a comment about the patient medicating with cannabis. How did that officer know that the patient was comfortable with having the other
passengers know that (1) they are sick and (2) that they use medical cannabis? You can surely see where my concern is, for myself and every other patient who decides to medicate with cannabis legally and safely.
This behavior, and the actions by the police, is completely unacceptable. We need to work together to come up with a solution.
I’ve spoken with fellow patients, growers, dispensaries, and cannabis doctors, and we all stand together on this. We demand that we are respected as patients. We know
that the police aren’t checking to see if we’re on any anti-biotics, anti-depressants, or any other medicine. They don’t even look at
the opioid prescription database, yet they are for cannabis?
Included is digital signatures of legal
patients, caregivers, growers, dispensary employees, cannabis doctors, people interested in learning about
medicating with cannabis, and supporters in general. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you and working on a resolution to this conflict.
Ignatius L Stefanski II
Legal Maryland Cannabis Patient
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