Unsung Heroes: Daddy-Daughter Duo "Put up a Fight" in WI - Parents 4 Pot

| February 23, 2015

My dad is my hero and I hate to see him go through this pain he had to live with... I'm not doing this for my benefit, I'm doing this for my dad's and all the other people in the world who need marijuana to stay alive.”

 

11009021_10200118420561086_453858410_n.jpg

Feb. 12, 2014 Madison, WI- 

At a hearing to legalize a cannabis byproduct for the treatment of seizure disorders, a 13 year old girl stood up in front of Wisconsin lawmakers and admitted to being a criminal, stating Yes, I do help my dad. I give him his (marijuana) puffs so he can be better. When he's spasming like lightning is striking him every minute, after 1 puff he's better... so that's all I got to say.”


The dramatic scene played out at the Wisconsin State Capitol during a contentious legislative hearing for a Republican-sponsored bill that would legalize the possession of CBD oil “without psychoactive affects” for seizure disorders (pending FDA and physician approval). 

Long after the lobbyists, TV cameras and parent advocates left the hearing room, lawmakers sat stunned and cannabis advocates broke out in applause when a paralyzed US Army Veteran testified that CBD oil without THC was not enough to quell his painful seizures and his  young daughter bravely admitted that she helped her father illegally medicate using cannabis. 

Under normal circumstances, cannabis legalization efforts of any type would have been supported by cannabis patients and advocates but this bill was what is known as a “CBD only” bill. CBD only bills are narrowly tailored and focussed on legalizing just one cannabinoid (CBD) out of hundreds. Because such a bill was unlikely to grant any meaningful access for anyone, it was opposed by many cannabis patients and advocates. With veiled threats from (R) WI State Rep. Scott Krug's office to remove anyone “unwilling to stay focussed on CBD and the plight of these families” hanging in the air, most testimony heard throughout the day was from representatives of Colorado-based CBD oil manufacturer and advocacy group “Realm of Caring” and from parents of seizure-stricken children in favor of the bill. By the time a young girl named Erica Sand stood to speak about helping her father use cannabis to stop his seizures, the hearing room nearly was empty. 

Just a few months earlier that young girl and her wheelchair bound father, Trevor James Sand of Manitowoc WI, once a soldier in the US-led “War on Drugs”, were held on the ground for 4 hours with SWAT team rifles held by deputies from Manitowoc County Sheriff's department pointed at their heads. It wasn't the first time this medical marijuana patient's home was ransacked and all of his medicine confiscated by police. 

Before “The Accident”: Proud Soldier and Father

Trevor is no “druggie”. He is no “dope dealer”. He is a single father and honorably-discharged US Army combat engineer who spent almost a decade helping his country shut down Manuel Noriega and Columbian drug cartels overseas. Trevor joined the US Army in 1987 on a delayed entry program and served as a combat engineer in Panama until his honorable discharge in 1996. Once a soldier fighting the “War on Drugs”, this devoted father and Veteran along with his entire family, have become victims of it. 

By all accounts Trevor was a productive, healthy and valued member of the community prior to his accident in 2007. Trevor admitted before Wisconsin lawmakers that prior to finding relief from pain and spasms using cannabis, he “hated pot" and activity associated with drug use. 
Her only parent and best friend since the age of 5, Erica, now 14, describes her father and their relationship prior to the accident as this- 

I was always by his side. people started to call me his little shadow and that because I was. I followed every foot step that he took. My father was a volunteer firefighter and volunteered at neighbors' farms. He built swing sets and playgrounds for children around the us. My dad wanted to help people so he did.”

June, 2007- The Inseparable Daddy-Daughter Duo's World Changed

I thought my dad had died that day. I thought I lost my best friend. “

Accepting an invitation to swim in a friend's pool after helping clean out their garage, Trevor and Erica had no idea their lives and their relationship were about to change forever. 

A playful and care-free early Summer afternoon abruptly ended when Erica witnessed her father floating unresponsive and face-down, suffering a devastating spinal cord injury while doing a handstand in the pool. Only 6 years old, seeing her hero, nearly drowned, rescued and then loaded into an ambulance, Erica was terrified. 

For 3 months she stayed day and night at her father's bedside in the hospital. But the man that subsequently came home was NOT the same man Erica had spent her entire childhood being the shadow of. 

When my dad came home that Fall he just wasn't the same. He wasn't the Dad I knew.. he was a different person and I didn't like it at all...he just seemed like a zombie.” 

The damage caused by the traumatic spinal cord injury and subsequent drowning left Trevor with permanent nervous system damage including daily seizures and painful muscle spasms. The man whose little girl once followed his every foot step would now require the use of a wheelchair and assistance from caregivers for the rest of his life.

"I offered to help. I wanted to do anything I could do to get the old daddy back. He called me his little helper..

Testifying before the Wisconsin legislative committee, Trevor described suffering morning seizures so violent the force would shake his 800lb. specialized care bed, waking up and frightening his daughter and elderly parents. He described experiencing pain in his limbs so horrific and, with no relief in sight, wishing for elective amputation. 

After trying more than 40 medications to control the seizures and spasms, Trevor suffered numerous negative side effects including damage to his kidneys and stomach lining and found himself once again back in the hospital. 

This time it was a VA hospital and this time he'd find relief for his pain that would change his life and his family's life forever. 

When he came home, I started balling my eyes out. I had my dad back.”

During an inpatient rehabilitation admission to the Milwaukee VA Hospital, Trevor was asked by another Veteran if he'd ever tried marijuana to relieve his pain.  Upon hearing the other soldier's promise that it would him help him and with the encouragement of VA nurses, Trevor turned to smoking cannabis to relieve his pain and slow the seizures. He recalls there was nothing like it in many years of trial and error with pharmaceuticals. Nothing relieved the seizures, pain and spasming as well as cannabis. 

Even though he didn't have use of his legs or arms... After talking with my dad for a while, I noticed he had his mind back and wasn't in so much pain or spasming out of his chair.

Erica, like any young child educated and raised in the day of D.A.R.E (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) classes in every elementary school in rural America,  was shocked that her father, a law-abiding and respected member of the community was finding relief by breaking the law . 

"We talked about (the fact) he wasn't taking his pills the doctors told him to take....He told me he uses cannabis. I was upset because I knew it was against the law but then I saw with my own eyes multiple times, how much of a miracle medical cannabis is. 

Cannabis had brought this little girl her hero back. She was once again known as his shadow, working together on neighborhood projects for the first time since the accident . He was there, calm and present to help Erica with the difficulties of childhood and a positive influence despite all their hardships. 

Erica.jpg 

"He even taught me to build a whole go kart this Summer. I put the whole together myself with his directions. It was a fun...and now my dad are close again.

THE RAIDS BEGIN

January 2012 

Despite being a registered Oregon Medical Marijuana patient, and despite the fact Trevor had legal prescriptions for all drugs found in his possession including for the Schedule 3 Narcotic and synthetic THC "Marinol", Manitowoc County Sheriff's Dept. raided the home of Trevor's elderly parents in Wisconsin, where he and Erica had lived with family since the fateful accident. 

Police seized all of Trevor's medications including powerful opiates and destroyed the cannabis plants that he used to treat his chronic painful conditions but declined to criminally charge him or his elderly parents. Erica claims the police stated that they were “sorry” for the raid and promised they would “never come back and do it again.”

Left Desperate For Relief

My dad suffered months after that (raid) because he didn't have any medicine.” 

In his committee testimony, Trevor described the desperation of looking for treatment for his seizures after the first police raid on his home left him without any legally prescribed treatment. Falling victim to illegal marijuana market profiteers, Trevor bought cannabis oil made from hemp, erroneously marketed as legal in all 50 states. He paid as much as $125/gr. to discover that the CBD oil contained less than 5% THC and was a treatment failure (a fact he later passed onto the WI lawmakers attempting to pass “CBD only” legislation). Friends also tried to help Trevor by supplying him with cannabis oil brought back to WI from legal states until he decided he could no longer let his friends continue to take risks on his behalf. So Trevor turned back to growing and creating medicinal cannabis oil on his own. 

This decision and a family disagreement led to the second traumatizing police raid on the family home in 2 years. 

"The DEA raided us on October 10, 2013....they had guns pointed at people, even one to my dog. They tried putting me in handcuffs. They left my great aunt on the bed pan for 4.5 hours..."

For the second time since becoming a medical cannabis patient, Trevor's family home was raided and his medicine confiscated- plants meant for the extraction of oil along with legally prescribed narcotics including powerful opiates and synthetic THC were taken by police. 

This time however Trevor and his 66 year old parents were charged with felony manufacturing of THC. Trevor has pleaded “not guilty” while his parents, too poor and scared for a legal fight, instead entered into a deal, pleading “no contest” to misdemeanor cannabis possession. While Trevor waits for effective representation from his court-appointed attorney, his parents have been subpoenaed by the DA to testify against their own son if and when his case does go to trial. 

Regarding his parents plea deal, Trevor blames the state and county officials. “The state of Wisconsin pretty much stalled it off until my parents couldn't afford an attorney anymore. That's why they took a plea. I don't call that justice when you can't afford to prove your innocence.” 

The Toll of Prohibition

A year and a half later Erica reports unexpected support emerging from their small church and community but the raids continue to take a toll on her family to this day. 

Her great-aunt, left soiled and bed-ridden during the last raid subsequently died just a few months later. 

Her father Trevor's health continues to decline without access to cannabis and Erica faces ridicule and persecution from her classmates and teachers at school. 

My dad again suffers from autonomic dysreflexia from the stress and spasms. I never saw my dad cry before, but once I did, it was horrifying.”

Trevor, still prescribed synthetic THC in the form of “Marinol” , states the Schedule 3 CSA medication is ineffective at treating his seizures yet costs VA insurance $24,000/mo. He continues to have resort to the black market to find effective, natural cannabis, spending over a $1000/mo which the family on a fixed government income can ill-afford.

Erica, traumatized by police and shunned by many of her peers, continues to bravely stand up and speak out for cannabis patients whenever she can despite the backlash . 

I miss being happy. I am angry all the time...I'm scared to sleep at night. I'm struggling to keep up with my class. Kids in my school call me a pot head and talk BS about my family. ...My dad bought me a "Yes We Cannabis" sweatshirt and I wore it to school one day...they tried to suspend me. They didn't even talk to my dad about it.”

Putting Up a Fight

Despite experiencing pain, persecution and prosecution after their home had just been raided a few months prior, this father and daughter still had the courage to stand before WI lawmakers and confess that they continue to have to break the law in order to relieve Trevor's suffering. During the hearing, (D) WI state Rep.Chris Taylor, (sponsor of a whole plant medical cannabis bill) thanked Trevor for pointing out that under current law, medical cannabis patients are turned into criminals in order to gain access to their chosen medicine and that while CBD oil may help some, patients deserved access to all of the cannabis plant.

Trevor has vowed to never stop fighting Prohibition and speaking out on behalf of Veterans who deserve access to cannabis. -

I served in the US army and now that I need cannabis to sustain a healthy life , I can't get it in Wisconsin but its ok in other states. Its not right that I defended and bled for our whole country but can only get my medical treatment in certain parts of our country because politicians say so! What the hell do politicians, cops,judges, lawyers etc. know about medicine? They're not doctors- How can they pretend to be?

Erica, also angry at police and state officials for the trauma she experienced, promises to rise from the tragedy stronger and able to help others unjustly affected by Prohibition. 

I'm only 14 and in the 8th grade but i know that you are innocent until proven guilty. This country tore our family apart. I want to go to law school to be an attorney so I can be a fair fighter. 

Though traumatized and scarred by police raids on her family home and the subsequent ostracization from her peers, Erica, not yet old enough to drive or vote, has risen up to fight for not just her father, a Veteran and medical cannabis patient, but every family torn apart by Prohibition. Its easy to see what values her father handed down to her, a young woman happy in the safety and security of her hero-daddy's shadow. Its also too easy to imagine her devastation if she were to ever be separated from him. 

My dad is my hero and I hate to see him go through this pain he had to live with... I'm not doing this for my benefit, I'm doing this for my dad's and all the other people in the world who need marijuana to stay alive.”


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.