From Lonnie Painter, a resident at Laguna Woods Village who provided heartening support when Drs. Philip Denney and Robert Sullivan opened a cannabis-focused practice in nearby Lake Forest in 2004. Painter has organized a community cannabis club for educational and social purposes. He is the best kind of activist. The accompanying photo is of Painter at a meeting of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine in Cologne in 2013. So much for staying abreast of the science, citizen…

 Wednesday, August 16 close to 5:00 PM my doorbell rang, when I answered it there were 4 men in
regular clothes standing there, they identified themselves as Orange County sheriffs.” We are here to investigate the smell of someone smoking marijuana”. Four men (with guns, but not displayed) at my front door threatening my wife and me with jail. My heart started pounding like a hammer in my chest. I was getting dizzy, Fight or flight? I felt a wave of anger and fear wash over me. This is not against the law what were they here for? My 74 year old wife had undergone chemotherapy & cancer surgery her body weight went from 128 lbs to 87 lbs she was in the bedroom hooked to a TPN feeding tube pumping nutrition into a vein in her chest. The day before we had been told the cancer had returned. She had been suffering severe nausea & stomach cramps for months, had taken 4 different pharmaceutical drugs to help control it with little success. Her oncologist Dr. Leslie Randel at Saddleback hospital told her the best thing for it was to smoke cannabis. As soon as she woke in the morning she turned to smoking cannabis to help her get through the cramps and nausea. And now we were being threatened I told them my wife had cancer and was using cannabis with her doctors advice. I asked them over & over why are you here, we have broken no laws. The reply was always we are here to investigate the smell of marijuana smoke. “We can get a search warrant” one of them said. I told them to get the hell away from my door as there was no law against smoking cannabis. after about 10 – 15 minutes they went up the stairs where they stood around for another 10 or 15 minutes. I went up there and again asked why they were harassing us over a non crime. Now there was 5 of them standing there. At that time my wifes nurse had arrived and I told them, this is my wife nurse”. and I told her, “These guys are cops harassing us over marijuana smoke. The nurse told them,” Her doctor recommended her to use cannabis.” One of cops keep smirking when I said, “my wife is a cancer patient what the hell are you bothering us for a non crime”? I was so angry I could barely contain myself. This could have very easily turned into a violent episode because at that point they had become the enemy, they were threatening to arrest my cancer stricken wife even though we had done nothing wrong, had broken no laws. I was being consumed with hate I would defend my wife with my life. They were the enemy. Fear and common sense were gone replaced by rage. I later told one of them they were scum and I hated them all, I despised them for doing this to us. I had lost all reason. Months of stress of being care taker, she could barely get out of bed and recently had fallen off the toilet and hit her head on the bathtub. I had to take over all aspects of house work as well as her care, preparing food she wouldn’t eat while watching her waste away. And now this.

These bastards have frightened my wife who broke down crying and now she is scared they will come back and arrest us. Both of us have doctor recommendations to use cannabis. Me for chronic pain and PTSD. This event has triggered one of the most severe episodes of anger & fear I have had in decades. I can not stop it from playing over and over and over in my mind. I wake up at night and there it is, cops at the door to arrest my wife and me. Cops beating me, twisting my arms behind my back handcuffing me, beating me when I struggle. Dragging my wife out of bed, ripping the tube from her chest. It plays over and over in my mind.

Tears are streaming down my face as I write this. How could this happen to us in a city that supports the medical use of cannabis? Did the sheriffs office think because the Laguna Woods City Council banned dispensaries that it gave them the green light to start persecuting and terrorizing residents.

I am asking you, our city council to CONDEMN this action by the sheriffs office. Demand they NEVER treat residents of Laguna Woods or anywhere like this again. Order those involved in this harassment to personally apologize to me and my wife for terrorizing us. Do not let them come back to harass us as I really believe I will not be able to control myself and that will lead them to beat me to a pulp or worse they will shoot and kill me.

Lonnie Painter
Laguna Woods Medical Cannabis
Village Cannabis Club