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Family Drawn Into Father's Struggle Over Medicinal Pot


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Source: Denver Post (CO)
Author: Will Shanley, Denver Post Staff Writer
Published: Monday, September 27, 2004 
Copyright: 2004 The Denver Post Corp
Contact: [email protected]

About a year ago, Dana May sat down with his three children for a heart-to-heart talk about the ills of marijuana. Smoking pot, May told his youngsters, is a habit they should avoid.

Moments later, the 6-foot-8-inch May rambled downstairs to the basement of his Aurora home.There, he tended to his 12 pot plants that flourished in a small back room in the corner of his basement. He also smoked a little marijuana.

For May, it was a matter of medicine.

"It's a very sophisticated system," said May, 45, who was arrested by Aurora police last spring for growing medicinal marijuana, even though he possessed a state-issued permit to do so.

Colorado voters in 2000 approved a medical marijuana law.

Federal regulations, however, still prohibit the drug's use.

After the arrest, May filed a lawsuit against the Aurora Police Department for damages totaling $10,000.

He has since dropped the suit after Drug Enforcement Administration agents agreed to return his growing system.

The equipment, a complex system that involved growing lamps and a carbon-dioxide pump, is valued at $4,000.

Yet with the case seemingly coming to a conclusion, May treads forward warily.

"When they did this, it absolutely destroyed my whole world," said May, who suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a nerve disease that causes searing pain in his feet and legs. "It's been tough for everyone around me."

He's not sure where or if he will reassemble his growing setup. He's fearful of future raids on his home and of burglars, who in 2003 snatched a marijuana harvest that required six months of work.

"They knew exactly where I kept my stuff," he said.

For now, he often goes without smoking pot for periods of time or secures small quantities through connections he has within the medicinal-marijuana community.

His family, too, is just now starting to recover.

May's children, Samantha, 15, and two 10-year-old twins, Brandon and Cody, are sometimes reminded at school of their father's unintended fame.

For the most part, though, peers, teachers and other school administrators have been relatively supportive, the children said.

Samantha, a freshman, plays softball and basketball at Smoky Hill High School. The twins are in fifth grade at an Aurora elementary school.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's all about them," said May, who was a nomad as a youth.

He grew up in California, splitting time between Orange County and San Diego. His parents divorced when he was 9, triggering years of unrest as he bounced around 26 residences before his 16th birthday.

"It's something we wanted to avoid with our children," said May, nodding to his wife of 22 years, Robin, whom he meet in Boulder when she was a student there.

Before that meeting, he crisscrossed the country on a hitchhiking voyage in the 1970s.

That's all in the past now, however.

The debilitating disease put him out of work - he was a truck driver - and thrust him into the role of stay-at-home dad.

It has also created a strain within his family.

"I've got a lot of time on my hands," said May, who had not smoked marijuana for about 25 years until the pain became too much to bear.

"We fight sometimes because he hurts so much," Samantha said.

With his free time, May said he loves watching University of Colorado football at Folsom Field, camping, painting, drawing and cooking.

More than anything, though, he sees a silver lining that has emerged during his "nine years of hell."

"One of the good things is I get to spend time with the kids," May said, running his large hand through his sandy-blond hair. "We've talked about the medicinal part of it, and they know it helps me."

Related Articles & Web Site:

Medical Marijuana Information Links

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Feds Back Down in Medical Pot Case


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