NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR
THE REFORM OF MARIJUANA LAWS
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OKLAHOMA RE-IMPRISONS PARAPLEGIC JIMMY MONTGOMERY ON POT CHARGE; FAMILY FEARS FOR HIS LIFE
April 4 - Today the State of Oklahoma re-imprisoned paraplegic Jimmy Montgomery who has been confined to a wheelchair for over twenty years and who suffers from chronic anti-biotic resistant infections in his lower body. Montgomery was sentenced in 1992 to ten years in prison for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. In 1993, after serving almost a year of his sentence and nearly dying twice because of the failure of the state of Oklahoma to provide adequate treatment for the highly communicable infections, Montgomery was released on an appeals bond arranged by NORML Legal Committee member C. Rabon Martin.
Montgomery was actually convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, based on the testimony of an acquaintance who had been arrested -- by a lawman named Lawless -- for cocaine possession. This man was then given a lighter sentence in exchange for testifying against Montgomery. The police then attempted to seize the house in which Montgomery lived. The house belongs to his elderly mother and there was never any allegation that she knew of any of the alleged marijuana use.
Marijuana is widely -- but illegally -- used by people with spinal chord injuries for the relief of pain and spasm in their paralyzed limbs. Presumably the state of Oklahoma will give Montgomery opiates, tranquilizers and muscle relaxers instead of marijuana. Unfortunately, the state previously failed to provide adequate medical care for him, which endangered not only Montgomery, but also the other prisoners with whom he was confined. Montgomery's family fears for his life, not only from the infections, but also from other prisoners who may fear infection by being confined with him.
(Montgomery was also convicted of possession of "drug paraphernalia" -- pipes -- and of possession of two guns in the commission of a drug related felony. Drive-by shootings by people in wheelchairs are a major problem in small towns in Oklahoma. The only evidence of intent to distribute was the testimony of another officer who claimed that he had never seen anyone with two ounces who was not a major dealer. This officer was subsequently arrested and charged with embezzling from the police property room. Nonetheless, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence based solely on this officer's testimony -- without issuing a written opinion to explain this action.)
Montgomery's appearances at the National Press Club and at a protest in front of the White House on November 15, 1994, National Medical Marijuana Day, were ignored by the national media -- although some did complain about the smell of marijuana smoke at the Press Club. NORML notes that Thomas Jefferson said "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."
Mr. Montgomery's attorney, C. Rabon Martin will be seeking a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City. Martin can be reached at 918-587-9000. The Governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating, can be reached at 405-521-2342. An ABC Television News Special "America's War on Drugs: Searching for Solutions" will feature the Jimmy Montgomery story on Thursday, April 6 at 10PM Eastern.
ALMOST 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 ... ANOTHER EVERY 90 SECONDS!