A Michigan medical marijuana patient serving 10 years in prison for helping other MMJ patients get their medication, hasn’t been receiving the medical care he needs, his wife says.
Jerry Duval was convicted of marijuana distribution after a federal trial in which he was denied the right to argue his actions were legal under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. The charges stemmed from a series of raids against MMJ providers across the state in March 2011.
Duval, 53, a patient and a provider, suffers from type 1 diabetes and resulting complications, including kidney disease, retinal problems, neuropathy and glaucoma. He has had a kidney transplant and a pancreas transplant.
He surrendered in June to serve out his sentence in a federal hospital prison.
His conditions demand constant medical attention, and his wife, Tracey Duval, says he isn’t getting it. She said he’s had two hemorrhages in his eye since he surrendered and was never given the outside medical treatment he needed. He has come close to losing sight in one eye and could go blind if his needs aren’t treated, Tracey said.
“It’s actually the worst one that he’s ever had,” she said of the hemorrhages. “If this situation doesn’t get taken care of, he could lose his eyes.”
A spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons insisted the agency provides needed medical treatment to inmates, though he wouldn’t comment on Duval’s case.
“I can tell you that we provide appropriate and necessary medical care to inmates in our custody,” said spokesman Chris Burke.
Tracey Duval has joined with Americans for Safe Access, a pro-MMJ group, to press the federal government to let Duval get treatment outside prison.
Earlier, the Duvals pleaded unsuccessfully for his release on grounds of compassion. In his petition, he noted his continuing care would ultimately cost taxpayers $1.2 million over 10 years while, if he were released, he would bear that burden himself.
Duval is serving his sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass., the same place that handled Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The location was only changed after an outcry following the government’s initial decision to place him in a standard prison without specialized medical facilities.
Long prison sentences have not been kind to MMJ patients. This summer, Richard Flor, a 68-year-old Montana man with serious illness, died shortly into a 5-year sentence for distributing medical marijuana. Flor suffered two heart attacks in prison and died after officials bungled his treatment and a judge refused to release him for better care.