Police in western Missouri got a call reporting a marijuana smell and they decided to investigate. The fact that the smell was apparently coming from the hospital room of a Stage 4 pancreatic cancer patient wasn’t going to stop them. Video posted on Facebook shows officers from the Bolivar Police Department going through Nolan Sousley’s things at Citizens Memorial Hospital.
Sousley told the Bolivar Herald-Free Press that it all apparently began when a hospital security guard entered his room and told him he smelled marijuana. “He said I smelled marijuana coming from you room. I was like, it’s not me. I didn’t have any marijuana, so leave me alone because I’m trying to sleep,” Sousley told a local Fox affiliate. Then officers arrived. Sousley told them that all he had were pills with THC but the officers insist someone said they could smell marijuana in the room. He said that was impossible because he never smoked marijuana and just took pills.
The officers specified that if they found marijuana, Sousley would receive a citation. When Sousley reminded them that Missouri will soon legalize medical marijuana, the officers were unconvinced. “It’s still illegal,” one replied. Although Missourians voted to legalize medical marijuana in November, the regulations are still not in place.
In the end, the officers only found CBD oil, which is legal. They didn’t find any marijuana.
The video of the incident has since gone viral, racking up almost 700,000 views and forcing the department to shut down its Facebook page because it became “inundated by negative feedback,” Bolivar Police Chief Mark Webb said. The department’s phone lines have also been receiving lots of calls from across the country to complain about the action.
Amid all the uproar, Sousley later told the Bolivar Herald-Free Press that he didn’t blame the police. In a statement he said he hoped something good could come from the controversy. “It is my desire that this entire situation be used for good¸—politicians should stop trying to limit our right to use cannabis and its derivatives,” Sousley said in the statement. “There are many issues that are demanding the attention of politicians. This is not one of them.”
The hospital later apologized. “We pride ourselves in providing compassionate care to all patients and we fell short of expectations,” Tamera Heitz-Peek, a spokeswoman for Citizens Memorial Hospital, said in a statement. “We apologize to our patient and his family and friends who were affected by our actions. We are reviewing the incident and will retrain our employees in the core values and the importance of respect and dignity to our patients and the community.”