Jailed Marijuana Dispensary Owner Goes On Hunger Strike


Photo: MHP of Spokane
Jerry Laberdee in happier days at his dispensary, Medical Herb Providers, in Spokane.

​​There are two ways to look at the federal government’s war on medical marijuana patients and providers. One is the theoretical, statistical way of looking at things — where it’s all numbers —  and another is looking at the pot war’s impact on actual human beings.

The second way is a lot more difficult.

A medical marijuana patient and dispensary owner in Washington state has been on a hunger strike ever since he was jailed six days ago on federal charges.

Jerry Laberdee, 56, has been in Spokane County Jail since last Tuesday, after he refused to take his court-ordered drug test, reports Curtis Cartier at Seattle Weekly. Laberdee says he won’t eat until he’s released and allowed to use medicinal cannabis, as he is legally authorized to do under Washington law.
His daughter, Jessica Vogel, 28, told the Weekly that she hasn’t been able to talk much with her dad since he was jailed, but she hopes his hunger strike will “wake people up.”

Photo: Jessica Vogel
Jessica Vogel: “I want people to open their eyes and realize this is not just about marijuana, it’s about about constitutional rights are being stripped away”

​”I want people to open their eyes and realize this is not just about marijuana, it’s about our constitutional rights are being stripped away,” she said. “People should be rioting in the streets.”
“I learned from him, and am learning it now each day as he sits in jail unable to eat, that if we are too afraid to question authority then we are a disgrace to the men who founded this country,” Vogel wrote in a Facebook note.
“Something everybody needs to know is that U.S. Federal Code Title 21 Sec. 812 Paragraph B states that in order for something to be a Schedule I drug it must have ‘no current medical value,’ ” Vogel said. “Therefore marijuana should not be listed as a Schedule I drug.”
“The federal government provides marijuana to some patients, and therefore they clearly acknowledge that it does have current medical value,” Vogel said.
Back in May, Drug Enforcement Administration agents — assisted by Spokane Police officers, to their eternal shame — raided Medical Herb Providers, Laberdee’s dispensary, and methodically went through everything in the store.
The agents took 32 cannabis plants, $1,400 in cash, several ounces of dried marijuana, and several laptops, cellphones, and other electronic devices.
The raid was one of several in eastern Washington authorized under U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby, and is considered part of a broader federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Laberdee, though heavily questioned by agents at the time, had been allowed to stay out of jail prior to his court hearings, although he faced charges of marijuana possession and intended distribution. But the conditions of his remaining free were he was to quit smoking marijuana immediately and submit to random drug tests.
But Laberdee wasn’t smoking pot for the fun of it — he has serious pain issues which are only relieved by cannabis, and he wasn’t about to start suffering to live up to some court clerk’s puritanical ideals. He sees his effort, the Weekly reports, as part of a broader effort by the feds to silence people who speak out about cannabis law reform.
If you’d like to send Jerry thanks for making a stand for all of us, you can do so at this address:
Cell Block 4518W
Jerry Laberdee
1100 W. Mallon St.
Spokane, WA 99260