The Missouri police department is under criticism after officers from the Bolivar Police Department raided a stage 4 pancreatic cancer patient's room searching for marijuana.
The incident happened on Wednesday, 9 March 2019, and live footage was taken and shared by Nolan Sousley, the terminal cancer patient, on Facebook.
In the video, officers can be seen searching the patient's belongings at Citizen Memorial Hospital, where Nolan Sousley was hospitalized.
Voters in Missouri have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, but the lawmakers haven't implemented the law.
According to a police report, a staff member at the hospital had reported that he could smell cannabis in the room, but Sousley denied the accusations.
Sousley's physician also came into the room and challenged the officers' actions.
"Do you have the right to search his stuff? Or do you need a warrant for that?"
Sousley told the officers that he doesn't use the ground-up plants or smoke the drug. He can be heard saying to the officers on the video:
"There is no way they could smell it, doc, because I don't smoke it, I don't ever use a ground-up plant. It's an oil I use in a capsule, there's no smoking it. I take it as a pill."
The officers searched Sousley's belongings and didn't find any trace of marijuana.
One of the officers told Sousley:
"We're not taking you down to the county jail. We haven't found marijuana."
Sousley said that he's upset by the incident:
"I'm sick of our country, the way it is right now. I don't support the rules they have written. I use cannabis to save my life. I have the right to try anything. How can they say I can't? I have the right to live."
Mark Webb, Bolivar Police Chief, reported that the officers conducted the search, and no marijuana was found.
Webb said in a statement:
"Some of their security officers had detected or smelled marijuana coming from a patient room. Officers arrived to basically check the validity of that, and it was late and they were filming."
The Police Chief also reported that the incident has resulted in negative feedback and criticism from all over the world, and some officers have been threatened.
"I was a cop a long time before we had social media. I've got my staff in tears. People are calling and actually making threats against police."
Citizen Memorial Hospital also issued a statement concerning the incident:
"Unfortunately, due to HIPAA (federal privacy law), we are unable to comment about any specific patient, their treatment, or what was done or not done in any particular situation."
"Generally speaking, it is against the hospital's policy to smoke or vape on the hospital's campus. It is also our policy to call appropriate law enforcement any time Hospital personnel see or reasonably suspect illegal drug use in patient rooms or otherwise on campus."
When a local Media interviewed Sousley after the incident, he said he was "highly medicated at the time it all happened."
"I hadn't slept for days."
"As a terminal patient, you always ask, 'Is this the time I'll fall asleep and not wake up?' It makes it hard to sleep."
The Sousley incident was discussed in a public forum where citizens provided opinions about medical cannabis as the state officials write rules to set up the program.
The program is presumed to be fully operational in early 2020.
Cancer is the first of several illnesses enumerated in the law of the amendment that would qualify a patient for a medical marijuana certification from a physician.