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Veteran with PTSD Faces Life Sentence for Growing 6 Pot Plants

Maureen Meehan

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Last year, Kris Lewandowski, a disabled three-term Iraqi War veteran with PTSD, was arrested in Oklahoma for growing and using pot to treat his symptoms, but that was just the beginning of his problems.

After being medically and honorably discharged from the Marines and declared 100 percent disabled due to severe post-traumatic stress disorder, Lewandowski, 33, began to grow pot to treat his PTSD after his prescription medicine began to affect his liver and worsen his mental state.

In June 2014, his wife Whitney called for help when Kris suffered an episode and chased her and their two sons out of the house with a knife, before barricading himself in the home.

The police arrived and Kris surrendered peacefully. Then authorities found six pot plants in his garden. Local media referred to it as domestic disturbance that turned into a “major pot bust.”

Oklahoma law has no provision for medical marijuana usage and cultivation of any amount. Among the strictest drug laws in the country, Oklahoma has 54 state prison inmates serving life without parole for drug violations, according to NORML.

“They tossed him in jail like an animal,” Whitney Lewandowski told Buzzfeed about Kris’ detention.

Kris was ultimately released on bond and hired a lawyer, but then had to drop him.

“We just couldn’t afford him,” Whitney explained.

The family then moved to California—with permission from the authorities. Since Kris did not qualify for a public defender, he assumed his case was on hold while he searched for a new lawyer. Instead, the court in Oklahoma held a jury trial, which he missed, not having been informed it was even scheduled.

“We can’t even get anyone to talk to us,” Whitney told Buzzfeed. “We would have gladly been there.”

The Oklahoma judge then issued a fugitive warrant, and last month, Kris was arrested again at his son’s preschool where the family had gathered for a water day celebration. With guns drawn, deputies took Kris to Orange County Jail, where he remains.

One must ask: Is this how the United States treats a disabled man who served when asked by his country?

Whitney Lewandowski has set up a YouCaring page to raise money for legal expenses, and Kris' next hearing is scheduled for July 22. 

(Photo Courtesy of The Wire)

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