Jerry Laberdee's Hunger Strike

The medical-marijuana patient's post-arrest anti-munchies.

Yesterday marked one week since Jerry Laberdee last ate a meal. The 56-year-old medical-marijuana patient and dispensary owner has been in a Spokane County jail cell since last Tuesday, after he refused to take his court-ordered drug test. He's now pledging to go without food until he's released and allowed to take the medicine that he was legally authorized to take under Washington law. Laberdee's daughter, 28-year-old Jessica Vogel, tells Seattle Weekly that she's had very little communication with her dad since he was locked up, but she hopes his hunger strike will "wake people up." "I want people to open their eyes and realize this is not just about marijuana, it's about our constitutional rights being stripped away," she says. "People should be rioting in the streets." In May, we reported on the raid on Medical Herb Providers in which Laberdee was first cited. Jessica Nuna, an employee at MHP, described DEA agents and Spokane Police officers calmly showing up and methodically going through everything in the store, ultimately taking 32 pot plants, $1,400 in cash, several ounces of ready-to-smoke marijuana, and several laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices. The raid on MHP was one of several in eastern Washington authorized under U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby, and is part of a broader effort by the federal government to crack down on medical-marijuana use in several states. Laberdee was questioned extensively by agents at the time. After being charged with possession of marijuana and intent to distribute, he was allowed to remain out of jail prior to his court hearings—as long as he quit smoking pot, got rid of any he still had, and submitted to random drug tests. Vogel says that Laberdee has a host of chronic pain issues, and that he gets relief only from cannabis, so he wasn't about to quit taking his medicine. He also sees his arrest as part of a bigger effort to silence people who speak about about cannabis reform. "Mainly, I want him to get out of jail," says Vogel, one of six children Laberdee raised. "But I also hope that people realize that we need to stand up for the people who are already making a stand." Those interested in "making a stand" need not quit eating, but can instead send words of encouragement to: Jerry Laberdee 1100 W. Mallon St. Spokane WA 99260 Cell block 4518w

 
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