A disabled Iraq War veteran with PTSD was arrested for growing and using marijuana to treat his symptoms. But that was only the beginning of his problems. Child Protective Services also tried to take his kids, allegedly forcing his wife to file assault charges against him so that she could avoid a felony charge herself and keep the children.
That's according to a Truth in Media story by Barry Donegan, who interviewed Whitney Lewandowski about her husband, Kristoffer:
Whitney Lewandowski said that her husband, a loving father to three children who was honorably medically discharged from the Marines and is 100% disabled due to severe post-traumatic stress disorder, was growing the marijuana for personal use, "He was just using it… He couldn't get any, and, of course, we're a military family, we're very poor, we couldn't afford to buy it anyway. So he was just growing it for himself. He was on his way out of the military and just wanted to see if it would help with [his mental health issues]. He was taking 13 pills a day, and it was just killing his liver. He was having all these issues with his body and he just wanted to try something more natural to just see if he could do without that many pills a day." She called his medical marijuana treatments "absolutely effective."
In June of 2014, Kristoffer suffered an episode. Donegan's story claims that Whitney took their three children to a neighbor's house to "diffuse the situation." A local news story called the incident a "domestic disturbance" and claimed Kristoffer chased Whitney with a knife before barricading himself in his house. The police intervened, leading them to discover the marijuana plants. This was treated as a major drug bust, according to KSWO.com:
Sheriff Stradley said it was clear from the get-go that Sunday night's call was anything but typical.
"The individual supposedly chased his wife with a knife and she went next door to a neighbor. They went to the door, he was inside the house, he first wouldn't come out. We thought he had a gun," said Stradley.
Once Lewandowski surrendered and came out of this house, that's when sheriff's deputies went inside. All it took was one look around the home for officers to realize they were dealing with a more serious situation.
"When we get there and we find out we have marijuana there that's being grown, it seems to get worse. And then with children present this is a bad situation gone worse for the whole entire family," explained Sheriff Stradley.
A more serious situation? Do cops really think a couple marijuana plants are more serious than a mentally-disturbed person wielding a knife?
Neither Donegan's story nor this recent account in The Free Thought Project mentions the knife. According to these stories, police told Whitney to file assault charges against her husband in order to distance herself from his illegal drug activities. Convinced that compliance was the only way to prevent child services from taking her children, she agreed.
Kristoffer was able to make bail, and the family moved from Oklahoma to California, where he can legally medicate himself with marijuana. But he inadvertently missed a court date, so undercover agents arrested him in a raid while he was picking up his kids from preschool.
The family recently set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for legal expenses.
I reached out to Whitney through the GoFundMe page. I also contacted Donegan about the story. I have not yet heard back from either person. It looks to me like the facts of Kristoffer's initial arrest are in mild dispute; based on what I know so far, I can't say for sure whether Kristoffer's behavior put his family in danger, justifying CPS intervention.
I can say that a couple marijuana plants should not be evidence of parental dereliction or criminal behavior. If a sick man who fought for his country wants to grow and consume marijuana to help himself cope with his injuries, his country should let him.