A US police department is facing criticism from the public after video footage emerged showing officers searching a terminal cancer patient’s hospital room for marijuana.
In a confrontation streamed to Facebook Live, two police officers are seen entering Nolan Sousley’s room at Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar, Missouri.Sousley was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer - which has a five-year survival rate of just 1% - in May 2018, and “takes cannabis to manage his pain as he approaches the end of his life”, says the Springfield News-Leader.
Police were called after a hospital security guard reported smelling marijuana.
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“There is no way they could smell it, because I don’t smoke it,” Sousley is heard telling the officers. “I don’t ever use ground-up plant.
“I had some capsules that had some THC oil in them. I took them outside in the parking lot.”
The police then proceed to search through his bags. One tells Sousley: “If we find marijuana we’ll give you a citation... We’re not taking you down to the county jail.”
Missouri residents voted to legalise the use of marijuana for medical purpose in November, but lawmakers are still working on the new legislation, which is due to come into effect by 4 June.
When Sousley mentions the legalisation vote, an officer replies: “It’s still illegal.”
“But I don’t have time to wait for that,” Sousley says.
Police found legal CBD oil but no marijuana in the room, and no further action was taken, Time reports.
The video has been viewed more than 800,000 times and the post was flooded with comments, the overwhelming majority of them supportive of Sousley and critical of the perceived heavy-handedness of the police.
The department’s receptionist “said she’d been ‘called every name in the book’ by irate callers since the search”, reports the Kansas City Star.
However, Bolivar police chief Mark Webb said that officers had followed procedure and obtained proper consent to search the room, and that the department has no plans to investigate the incident.
In a follow-up video, Sousley said that he felt violated by the search. “Politicians should stop trying to limit our right to use cannabis and its derivatives,” he said. “There are many issues that are demanding the attention of politicians. This is not one of them.”
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