Defense Fund for Patients

The support group for Montana’s medical marijuana and pain patients has established a defense fund to help patients who face legal problems, in honor of the life and death of Robin Prosser, a medical marijuana patient-activist who took her own life in Missoula 11 days ago.

Donations to the Robin Prosser Memorial Patients Legal Defense Fund will be used exclusively to support medical marijuana patients who face legal problems in spite of Montana’s compassionate medical marijuana law, said Bob Meharg, chairman of the board of directors of Patients & Families United (

In 2004, 62% of Montana voters (the largest margin of voter support ever achieved in a public vote on this issue in history) approved a state law which allows people with certain medical conditions, and a physician’s recommendation, to use marijuana as medicine. As of September, 2007, more than 400 Montanans in 38 counties were registered as patients in the state health’s department’s program, based on recommendations from 130 physicians.

But lots of Montana’s law enforcement agencies, including city and county prosecutors, dont even know that Montana’s medical marijuana law exists, and many seem to misunderstand it or look for ways to ignore its compassionate meaning, Meharg explained. Patients are facing unfair legal problems, and in some instances lower court judges and parole officers are directly interfering with physician recommendations, he reported.

The remarkable medicinal value of marijuana, particularly for pain relief, has been thoroughly established, Meharg said, and Montanans have a right to the medical care of their choice. Cops, prosecutors and judges dont have the right to practice medicine without a license. They dont have the authority to ignore a Montana law just because they dont like it, and with the death of Robin Prosser we are more determined than ever to fight for patients rights under the law, he declared.

Prosser, 50, suffered for 23 years from systemic lupus, a condition in which the immune system literally attacks one’s own tissues and organs, said Meharg, a retired trauma nurse. For Prosser, lupus involved constant excruciating pain and horrible side-effects, and she was allergic to traditional pharmaceuticals. Only medical marijuana brought her the relief from pain that made her life bearable, Meharg reported.

Prosser was a leading advocate of the Montana medical marijuana initiative, and when voters passed it in 2004 she had every reason to expect that her quality of life would improve, Meharg explained. But last spring, agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated her medicine, leading her legally registered caregiver to fear prosecution, interrupting her supply.

Our patient support group was working hard to improve her situation, but Robin couldnt endure her pain for as long as it takes to grow the precise strain of medical marijuana that she needed, Meharg said. Prosser took her own life on October 18th rather than continue to suffer.

Patients & Families United will never forget Robin Prosser’s struggle. She lost her personal physical fight, but her moral fight for patients rights lives on.