Angela Brown charged for giving medical marijuana to her ailing son

Angela Brown and her son, Trey.
Angela Brown and her son, Trey.
Courtesy of Angela Brown

UPDATE: After this story broke, Lac Qui Parle county attorney Richard Stulz refused to disclose his reasons for charging Angela Brown. Despite public outcry against the case, Brown was due in court for a hearing on the charges in late September 2014. Stulz is currently running unopposed in Lac Qui Parle County.

In a year, she'd be applauded as nothing more and nothing less than a law-abiding, caring mom. But fact is, Minnesota's medical marijuana law hasn't gone into effect and won't until next summer, so instead, Angela Brown faces criminal charges.

The Madison, Minnesota resident has been hit with two gross misdemeanor charges for giving medical marijuana to her son, Trey, who suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was struck in the head by a baseball in the spring of 2011.

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Trey, now 15, nearly died from his injuries. Lingering symptoms include daily migraines and "extreme body pain," as his mom puts it. On a number of occasions he's harmed himself.

"All we knew was that his headaches were so bad he couldn't function," Angela tells us. "It was horrific to watch. I can't imagine the pain he was in. There were days where I had to hold him down so he wouldn't self-harm. He was extremely suicidal."

Desperate, the Brown family traveled to Colorado early this year to see if medical marijuana could make any difference. A medical dispensary there told the family they'd need a medical card to obtain marijuana, but referred them to a recreational dispensary where no card is required.

The store didn't have the tinctures the Brown family sought, but a worker there gave them the number of a producer who supplies marijuana oils to a number of Colorado medical dispensaries.

"Oh my God -- what a difference. Oh my God," Angela says when asked about the impact medical marijuana had for her son. "He told me that once it kicks in, his muscle spasms would calm. He feels the pressure in his brain releasing."

Trey's teachers took notice and asked Angela why her son seemed to be feeling so much better of late.

"I'm an open book, and during a meeting in school, I said, 'He's on a oil from Colorado... derived from the marijuana plant,'" Angela says. "Just the looks on some of the teachers' faces was like I just said I was shooting up my son with heroin. A week later I had the cop knocking on my door and they wanted me to hand over the oil. They made it sound like if I didn't, I was going to get arrested."

So Angela handed it over.

"Family services went to the school and asked Trey how much I was making him smoke and how high I was making him get," she continues. "When I said it was an oil they [didn't know what to think]. I was like, I wasn't making my kid smoke some back alley shit. Then family services dropped the case."

Though family services was no longer investigating her, without the oil, Trey's symptoms began to worsen. To compound matters, shortly thereafter, Angela received documents in the mail informing her she was being charged with the gross misdemeanors.

(For more, click to page two.)

"The prosecutor is trying to make an example out of me, but I am not pleading guilty to child endangerment," Angela says. "I'm just a mom who wants to take care of her child."

Angela says she, Trey, and her husband are considering a move to Colorado.

"I would rather not [move], but currently the laws are not going to allow us to live here," she says.

In any event, it's a very unfortunate spot for a mom with an ailing child to find herself in, especially in light of Gov. Mark Dayton's recent alleged comments about how if he had a child who could benefit from medical marijuana, he'd buy it off the street.

Through tears, Angela says, "I just feel strongly that [Trey] would have taken his life if we wouldn't have taken course we did."

"We are good, good parents," she continues. "I have a 21-year-old child in the military who will testify in uniform if allowed. I worked 13 years in a prison [Correction: Angela worked for four years in a prison], I'm a very compassionate person, I've worked in hospice. People in my community know I'm just trying to help my child."

Angela's next court appearance is scheduled for September 29. Each of the child endangerment-related counts she faces carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

The Lac qui Parle County attorney didn't return a message seeking comment.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.

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