Loogootee, IN — An Indiana woman is facing the consequences of using cannabis to treat her health conditions in a state where it has yet to be legally sanctioned after she says police raided her home, interrogated her family and charged her as a felon.
Deangela Forbes told the Free Thought Project that the incident began when Loogootee Police were attempting to serve a court order for her boyfriend, Michael Bakerian, to appear in court for a civil matter. She said things changed when the officer serving the warrant smelled marijuana through the screen door. Instead of serving Bakerian with the papers, the officer returned to police headquarters and obtained a search warrant for their apartment.
Bakerian's father is a retired police officer, and Forbes is a former prison guard—but not even their history of support for law enforcement could have prepared them for what happened next.
On June 24 at 1 a.m., Forbes said a team of police officers opened their front door and came barging into the apartment, screaming orders at the two adults and Forbes's 15-year-old son.
"Get in the living room, now! Get out in the living room!" they screamed ordering all three to the den. Forbes said they tore apart her bedroom, even though she told them where the marijuana was located.
"They tried to get me to say I had an ounce, which is a felony, but I didn't have that much," Forbes told TFTP, noting that she recalls having about half an ounce. "I felt like they were trying to trick me into incriminating myself into a felony."
Forbes said she obtained the marijuana to help treat medical conditions such gastroparesis, an inability to digest food when the digestive system becomes somewhat paralyzed. She smokes cannabis to be able to eat, as the condition prevents her from feeling hunger.
Forbes also suffers from diabetes and is insulin dependent. She said she has to balance her blood sugar levels daily by taking insulin injections and prescription medicine. She noted that cannabis helps her diabetic neuropathy as well. "It helps me with my pain and helps me be able to eat," she said.
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"The police kept using their flashlights to show each other I had needles and they seemed to think I was on heroin on something," Forbes said, noting that the needles were actually present for her regular insulin injections.
Forbes said she was arrested and charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor. She was charged with "maintaining a common nuisance" and "neglect of a dependent" both of which are class six felonies. For using cannabis to control her gastroparesis and to mitigate the pain of diabetic neuropathy, she was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
"I've never been in trouble with the law!" Forbes said, adding that she now has to find a new place to live because her apartment complex is government run, and as such has a zero tolerance policy towards drug use. She said that she and her son were given just a few days to vacate the apartment, while her boyfriend is still in jail, facing charges of "visiting a common nuisance" and "possession of marijuana."
Before the arrests, Forbes said her boyfriend was working two jobs, but he has not been able to work since because his bond is set at $2500 cash. She now has to depend upon the help of other family members to move their belongings, all because one officer smelled cannabis at her front door.
Forbes, who was using cannabis to control her pain and appetite, now has to be drug tested weekly, a result of Child Protective Services' involvement in their home. "I've already done two," she said and it has only been a week.
"Some people suggested there's a medicine called 'Marinol' and that I should try that," Forbes replied when asked how she is going to make it without cannabis. Marinol is a big pharma brand of thc — synthetic cannabis — which is legal by prescription. If you have the government-approved synthetic version of the exact same drug as cannabis, cops won't kick in your door and kidnap you. Seems legit.
In the minds of free thinkers, it is clear to see Forbes was benefitting from a natural plant, in order to maintain her health up until police—enforcing Indiana's draconian drug laws—invaded her home, kidnapped her family, and caged the breadwinner.
The so-called authorities then subjected her to the deprivation of her life-saving pain management protocol, and have forced her to submit to the public scrutiny of her parenting skills. The family has now been forced into homelessness all because pharmaceutical companies insist that their chemical substitutes are the only drugs which will be sold by prescription in Indiana.
It is time for a change. Marijuana has helped millions of people and is legal to be used in at least 29 states in the U.S. Still, stories like Forbes' serve to illustrate that while some Americans are given the freedoms to use natural medicine for their ailments, others are not so lucky.