MADISON, MN — A mother has been criminally charged for the efforts she took to save her son’s life with cannabis oil, and could spend up to two years in prison if convicted.
In 2011, eleven-year-old Trey Brown suffered a traumatic brain injury. Trey was struck in the skull with a baseball and put into a coma due to bleeding in his brain. When he finally awoke, he was “a shell of himself” and suffered from chronic pain, seizures, learning disabilities, and suicidal thoughts.
“I cry like every day before I go to bed,” Trey, now 15 years old, told CBS News. “Like my brain is about to blow up, cause there is so much pressure.”
Trey’s mother, 38-year-old Angela Brown, searched for ways to alleviate her son’s agony. He was put on 18 different pharmaceutical drugs but the problems persisted, and the side effects made him even more suicidal. He told his mother that he “didn’t want to live anymore.
Mrs. Brown saw one final option: cannabis oil. Recently approved for medical use in a number of states, the oil has shown remarkable results in patients with pain and seizures. A doctor recommended the family seek the treatment in Colorado. So, in March of 2014, the family took a trip to Boulder, Colorado, to obtain a bottle of cannabis oil legally from one of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries.
The results were incredible. Trey’s pain subsided and the migraines went away. The muscle spasms stopped, too. Trey was finally able to do better in school.
“It was a miracle in a bottle,” his mother said.
Trey continued taking the oil for about a month. The family’s good fortunate was soon stamped out by oppressive forces in their home state. Trey’s school became inquisitive about how the teen had shown so much improvement at school. Mrs. Brown — who describes herself as “an open book” — eagerly told his teachers about the successful treatment.
“I said ‘Well, I gave him an oil that we’d gotten from Colorado,’” Angela recalled to CBS. “‘It’s derived from a marijuana plant.’ And then you could feel the tension in the room.”
School administrators wasted no time in reporting Ms. Brown to law enforcement. She had technically broken the law by returning to Minnesota with the forbidden oil. The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department arrested Angela Brown and she was charged with two gross misdemeanors, including child endangerment due to substance possession (609.378) and criminal jurisdiction which contributes to the need for child protective services (260C.425).
Trey’s oil was confiscated and his treatment ceased. The agonizing pain, swelling, and muscle spasms returned. “School was really hard again,” he said.
Ironically, the problem is not a refusal of the Minnesota state legislature to ease up on cannabis patients. In May 2014, Minnesota became the 22nd state to pass a medical marijuana law. The problem is that it doesn’t go into effect until July 2015.
But with Trey’s constant suicidal thoughts, Angela Brown said that her son could not wait for relief.
“I stupidly opened my mouth to the wrong people and I got turned in,” she said. “When people ask me questions, I’m an open book. It got me in trouble. The only thing I did wrong was open my mouth.”
The two gross misdemeanor charges could land Mrs. Brown in prison for up to two years and result in a $6,000 fine. Her children could also be taken away.
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The Brown family is now embroiled in legal problems and preparing to defend Angela’s actions in court. Supporters have shown up to court hearings but the district attorney refused to drop the charges.
“This simply is not a situation where someone has endangered their child,” said attorney Michael Hughes, who filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of Mrs. Brown. The judge reportedly has 90 days to decide whether to grant the motion.
“How is endangering your child taking his pain away?” said Angela Brown. “If someone answers that for me, fine, charge me, but until someone can explain to me how preventing pain is wrong, then I will continue to plead not guilty.”
“We are good hard working people that were just trying to save our son’s life. It has been a living hell since his injury and this just adds to our ever growing stress,” the Brown family stated on their GoFundMe Page— set up to raise funds for the Angela’s legal defense.
The family has indicated that they plan to move to Colorado to resume Trey’s treatment with cannabis oil. Whether Angela will be able to join them remains to be seen.