United for Care's Ben Pollara Blasts Child Protective Services Investigation of Medical Marijuana Advocate
Photo by Philip Poston
United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara is expressing outrage after a Florida woman was abruptly visited by Florida Child Protective Services last week on an anonymous tip that she had been administering marijuana to her son, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy.
Turns out, Renee Petro was not administering any marijuana to her 12-year-old son, Branden. Petro has, however, been an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana. The real crime, it would seem, was the intrusion of CPS agents arriving at her home to interrogate her 9-year-old daughter and the nurse who takes care of Branden.
Petro gives Branden prescribed medications as well as hemp oil, which is legal.
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The incident with CPS echoes the time Florida Cannabis Action Network president Cathy Jordan had her home raided by police after a tip.
On February 25 of last year, authorities arrived at Jordan's home after a government employee who was visiting a neighbor spotted some marijuana plants on her and her husband Robert's property.
Jordan is wheelchair-bound and has had Lou Gehrig's disease since 1986. She uses marijuana as treatment. Jordan's charges were dropped by the State Attorney's office in Manatee County in April.
But Petro's experience would seem to be more egregious. Petro says she has given her son no marijuana, although she would if it was legal. Petro has been a vocal advocate for medical marijuana and has been a part of rallies put together by parents dealing with similar struggles.
The activism might have been a result of the anonymous tipster calling the Department of Children and Families. But during their visit, the agents found no evidence of Petro administering any marijuana to Branden.
Part of the investigation included separating the children from her for questioning, including the 9-year-old.
"This is exactly why Floridians need to pass Amendment 2 in November," Pollara said in a statement reacting to Petro's run-in with CPS. "And why we need everyone's support to get word out about stories like Renee's and her family's."
Petro told Ladybud.com that her daughter was terrified that she would be taken away. She also remained insistent she never gave her son any marijuana.
Meanwhile, some state legislators are trying to get the extract known as Charlotte's Web legalized. The CW extract is known for not giving someone who takes it the usual buzz one gets from pot. Proponents say it reduces seizures in children with a rare form of epilepsy.
"I know fully well that cannabis would help him," Petro told Ladybud. "But because I live in an 'illegal' state, we have never tried it. I have not broken any laws."
The CW measure is separate from Amendment 2, however.
"Across the state, there are people who feel persecuted simply for wanting to give their loved ones the best care available," Pollara said. "We must stand with the Petro family and all suffering Floridians' families, and we must pass Amendment 2 in November so parents, friends, and especially patients don't have to live like criminals. "
United for Care is the main organization advocating for the approval of Constitutional Amendment 2 legalizing the medical use of marijuana in Florida.
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