Arrest of 80-Year-Old Grandma for Expired Card Highlights Issues With Medical Cannabis Laws

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The whole point of medical cannabis programs is to help those with a medical need connect with cannabis legally. Unfortunately, these programs usually have strict conditions for legal possession, cultivation, and use, leaving many people at risk for criminal charges. When state law enforcement choose to go by the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law, ridiculous and offensive things happen.

Take, for example, the case of Delores Saltzman. This 80-year-old grandmother, great grandmother, and medical cannabis patient was recently arrested in Michigan for the crime of having an expired medical cannabis card.

On June 19th, 2018, late in the evening, Delores Saltzman heard someone knock on the door. It was a Clare County Sheriff’s Deputy, named Ashley Gruno. She was there looking for Delores’ great granddaughter, who had lost her cell phone and state identification. Unfortunately, Gruno smelled cannabis from the porch. She asked whose it was, and Delores admitted it was hers. She had a pipe and less than an eighth of an ounce of dried cannabis in her home.

As it turns out, the grandmother who has used cannabis for pain, arthritis, and even recovery from a surgery didn’t have a valid state medical cannabis card. It had expired. Instead of using the discretion that comes with her position or exhibiting an ounce of human decency and compassion, Gruno saw this as a chance to make a potentially profitable drug arrest.

Image of Delores Saltzberg in front of a holiday tree Gruno placed the octogenarian in handcuffs and arrested her. Saltzman spent a painful night in jail, which she has stated was both unnecessarily cold and painful, because of her arthritis. The county prosecutor, no doubt sensing the potential public relations disaster, agreed to drop charges if Saltzman renewed her cannabis card. While she is not facing charges, the very fact that she was arrested and charged at all shows how little respect law enforcement agents really have for medical cannabis laws.

Most police officers would rather arrest a non-violent offender for a minor possession crime than look the other way when it was a clear case of medical use. This pedantic and uncivilized attitude causes mistrust between citizens and law enforcement and wastes countless resources that would be better spent stamping out violent crime.

Sadly, the same politician who has pushed Michigan law enforcement to disrespect and undermine the spirit of the state medical cannabis act is running for governor. Hopefully, cases like this will remind Michigan voters about the importance of what politicians they back and how critical full cannabis legalization is to basic human rights. This case should also alert voters in other states to the many faults in medical cannabis programs, such as pedantic policing as an end run around the compassionate intent of these laws.

For previous Ladybud coverage of cannabis in Michigan, click here.


Photo Credit: Public Photo from Mark Saltzman via Facebook