Rick Fabian, an amputee and disabled Vietnam veteran
who credits 12-step programs with saving his life,
went through a lot of soul-searching and consulted a
lot of friends and relatives before deciding to try
marijuana as medicine.
Now, caught between the burglars and would-be burglars
who have hit him twice in the last month, and the six
police who traumatized his family a few nights ago [March 2002]
after he reported the attempted burglary, Fabian lets
you know he's about as angry as a man in a wheelchair
Sober since 1990, Fabian suffers from severe chronic
pain, Hepatitis C and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD). He is also allergic to narcotics. Many other
common pain-control techniques have provided him
little or no relief.
After many conversations with his wife, her mother
(who lives with them), his sponsors at Narcotics
Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as other
friends and spiritual advisers, Fabian got everyone's
consent to try marijuana as medicine. He did so after
applying for a card from the Oregon Health Department,
and everyone agreed that marijuana afforded him a
better quality of life.
In a letter he wrote last year in support of Dr.
Phillip Leveque, who qualified him under the Oregon
Medical Marijuana Act, Fabian said "I am not on any
pain pills at all now. I am not on any more
antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil, either.
Acupuncture and medical marijuana have replaced 180
milligrams of morphine daily and I am not lethargic
feeling as when I was on it. My itching from the
morphine was becoming unbearable.
"My wife is very grateful to have a 'friendly husband'
as opposed to a grouchy, complaining, in-pain,
morphine- and Prozac-affected husband. My wife will
gladly testify at any hearing as to the effect of
medical marijuana on my PTSD. If anyone dares to tell
her that medical marijuana does not work for PTSD --
they'd better prepare to lose that argument! She lives
with me -- she knows!
"All of my friends in recovery whom we've told of my
medical marijuana use . . . agree medical marijuana is
much better for my medical condition than anything
else I've ever tried. The Prozac and Paxil that the VA
tried put me in the hospital two times. I want my
second decade of sobriety to be better than my first."
Unfortunately, a few Sunday nights ago, a burglar
stole four small marijuana plants from Fabian's
backyard. Although he suspects it was just kids -- who
else would steal immature plants? he theorizes -- he
told Voter Power soon afterward, "I will not feel good
ever again in this house."
Even so, seeing no alternative, he and his wife began
planning to erect a six-foot fence around their yard,
to buy a big dog, and to implement or beef up other
security measures. He also made a trip to the
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Troutdale the
next morning to report the theft.
"It was pretty good the way he came around," Fabian
chuckles as he recalls officer Michael Gate. It won't
give away the story to say he's the "good" cop Fabian
dealt with. After taking Gates to a private room in
the cop shop and telling Gates he wanted to report the
theft of four marijuana plants, Fabian was impressed
at the officer's cool response. Gates came out to his
property to look around and was "respectful and
serious," though he decided that dusting for
fingerprints would prove fruitless.
It's a truism in marijuana-cultivation circles that
once you've been ripped off, you should never grow
again in the same location. Sure enough, a few nights
ago at 2:30 a.m., Fabian's wife scared a burglar out
of their backyard. The would-be thief left behind a
backpack and other personal items after cutting
through one lock, apparently with bolt cutters he
managed to keep.
Medical pot growers are besieged in a dangerous world.
If police catch the thief, would he try to impress
other other inmates by telling them the whereabouts of
a pot garden?
Pot growers worry about such things, with good reason.
Who carries out the most home invasions, police or
rip-offs, can't really be documented with certainty.
"We reported it again to the Multnomah County
Sheriff's office and got no response for 10 hours,"
Fabian says. "I finally found a sheriff parked four
blocks from our house and explained the situation."
"Shortly afterwards," he says, "six sheriff's deputies
(four of them drug cops) came to my house. They
treated my wife like a criminal, insulted and
intimidated her and were very smart-ass towards her.
One even read her her rights! Her 87-year-old mother
has been traumatized," Fabian said. "She says she's
more afraid of the police coming back than anyone
taking anything from the backyard," he told Voter
Fabian's wife, Elaine, who was recovering from an eye
operation and hence unable to read the officers'
badges, says "Officer Matthew Roberts arrived with
another officer to investigate the attempted burglary.
As soon as I let them into the house to view the
backpack that Rick recovered from the backyard,
Roberts' partner commented on the smell he was
smelling. I informed the officers that we were both
medical marijuana patients. Roberts' partner then
apparently forgot that he was supposed to be
investigating an attempted burglary and went full tilt
for a marijuana bust under the guise of 'learning
about medical marijuana.'"
"As soon as I was through showing them the toolshed
[that had been broken into], describing the attempted
burglary and showing them the evidence, the other
officer asked to go back inside. Once inside, he asked
to see the grow. Since we knew we were legal, I showed
it to them. Then Roberts' partner expressed his belief
that we were only allowed two plants, claiming that he
had read the law and that that's what he recalled.
"I corrected him and went onto the computer to print
out the OMMA law for his edification. While I was
printing it out for him, he called in the narcs,
apparently trusting his memory more than the document
being printed out from our computer. Four narcotics
officers arrived, led by Sean Christian. Officer
Christian was not familiar with the law either, and
claimed that we were in violation even though he was
provided with proof that our renewal applications were
"He then proceeded to harass and intimidate me, even
going so far as to read me my rights."
Voter Power called the Multnomah County Sheriff's
Office Friday to find out if its officers understand
the law and whether traumatizing lawful medical
marijuana patients and an 87-year-old woman who have
been victimized by burglars is county policy. The
officer who returned the call says the
87-year-old mother-in-law was sitting on the sofa and
did not seem "traumatized" by what happened.
Voter Power will try to help Fabian find a new,
secure, off-site location where he can grow his
medicine. Any qualified patients or caregivers who
might be interested in helping him or partnering with
him are encouraged to get in touch with
AAMC Oregon Cannabis Exchange.
"I have learned that calling and reporting a crime is more dangerous, intrusive, and threatening to one's home and family and piece of mind than all the thieves in the world! Thanks for spreading the story to all our friends. It is shamefully disgusting that the law officers we employ to "protect and serve" us have their own agenda. They do not know the OMMA law and intimidate people as though they do. Oregon voters voted for a law and the law enforcers chose to treat the elderly, sick, and handicapped as guilty rather than with any compassion."