In a Facebook Live video that's gone viral, Missouri police can be seen searching a stage four pancreatic cancer patient's hospital room for marijuana, which they do not find.
Nolan Sousley, who was diagnosed with cancer last May, admits in the video that he previously consumed Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil pills in the parking lot of Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar, Missouri. Certain THC and cannabidiol extracts are legal in the state, and Missouri voters opted to legalize medical marijuana last November. However, possession of medical marijuana is still illegal, as the state won't even start taking dispensary applications until August.
"Medically in Missouri it's really legal now. They just haven't finished the paperwork," Sousley says in the video. "But I don't have time to wait for that."
Sousley tells WDAF the story started Wednesday night when a hospital security guard claimed to have smelled marijuana coming from Sousley's room. "I hadn't slept for days," Sousley says to the Bolivar Herald-Free Press, explaining that he was "highly medicated" as well. Though Sousley insisted he hadn't smoked any weed, police were called anyway. "There is no way they could smell it, because I don't smoke it," he says in the video as officers with the Bolivar Police Department search the room. "I don't ever use a ground-up plant. It's an oil that I use in a capsule."
Sousley said in a statement that he and his fiancée, Amber Kidwell, consented to letting the officers go through Kidwell's bags, which they did, according to the Springfield News-Leader. "One of my bags was also searched even though I had told them they could not do so," the statement added. But Sousley drew the line at his medicine bag. "This is my bag of medication. I'm not letting them dig through it," he says in the video. "It has my final day things in there, and nobody's going to dig in it. It's my stuff":
After the video ended, Sousley did let one of the officers go through the bag. The officer did not find any marijuana. "Officers received consent for a search of the room, and nothing was found," Bolivar Police Chief Mark Webb tells the Herald-Free Press.
The hospital has apologized, and Sousley said in his statement he does not blame police for what happened.
One of the officers assured Sousley that had they found marijuana, they would have simply issued him a citation. What's troubling is that this incident supposedly warranted a police response in the first place. Even if Sousley had been smoking marijuana (which he probably wasn't), the easiest way to solve this would have been for the hospital to tell him to do it outside.
The possibility that a cancer patient is lighting up should not be a police issue. Missouri voters have already decided they're fine with medical marijuana. That should be enough.