Disabled Oklahoma Veteran Facing Life In Prison For Using Marijuana To Treat PTSD

Kristoffer Lewandowski, 33, is a disabled U.S. Marine who was honorably discharged for medical reasons after multiple tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The father-of-three suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder following his tours of duty and was prescribed numerous pharmaceutical drugs. However, the Marine veteran began using medical marijuana to deal with his flare-ups after he began fearing that his liver was being damaged from the pharmaceuticals. Lewandowski slowly transitioned to a medical marijuana treatment plan that his wife said was “absolutely effective.” However, the family was visiting California when Kristoffer began his marijuana treatments. However, when they returned to their home in Geronimo, Oklahoma, the family lost access to the marijuana. Instead of going back to the pharmaceuticals, Kristoffer’s wife says the man grew six small marijuana plants in the family’s home that were only used for personal treatment, despite the fact that Oklahoma does not allow for the use or cultivation of marijuana for any purpose, medical or recreational. Therefore, in June, 2014, when officers were called to the family’s home for a domestic disturbance call after the man had a PTSD flare-up, Lewandowski was arrested for felony marijuana cultivation, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a domestic violence offense, which is punishable by up to life in prison.

Oklahoma has particularly strict marijuana laws that are considered some of the strictest in the nation. In fact, individuals who sell marijuana can face a life term. With marijuana plants found in the home, Lewandowski was slapped with a cultivation charge and could face a life term. However, many note that a life term is unlikely. Instead, Kristoffer’s wife, Whitney Lewandowski, says that in most cases, individuals are sentenced to one to two years per plant found. Kristoffer was found with six plants, and Whitney doesn’t want to see him in jail for six to twelve years for attempting to treat his PTSD more naturally.

“He was just using it … He couldn’t get any, and, of course, we’re a military family, we’re very poor, we couldn’t afford to buy it anyway. So he was just growing it for himself. He was on his way out of the military and just wanted to see if it would help with [his mental health issues]. He was taking 13 pills a day, and it was just killing his liver. He was having all these issues with his body and he just wanted to try something more natural to just see if he could do without that many pills a day.”

Whitney points out that her husband was considered 100 percent disabled from his severe post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from his multiple tours of duty as a U.S. Marine. Whitney says that following the arrest, the family raised funds to pay for his bond as well as to move the family to California, where Kristoffer could begin legal medical marijuana treatments. Whitney says everything was going well and the family was keeping in contact with Oklahoma law enforcement regarding the pending case when the veteran was arrested by undercover police officers for missing a court date. Kristoffer is now being held in a California jail for a “crime” that is completely legal in that state, waiting to be extradited to Oklahoma for his hearing.

Whitney says that in June, 2014, when she went to a neighbor’s house seeking help, as her husband experienced a PTSD flare-up, the police were only called for help, not to arrest the man she claims would never harm her. She says the domestic violence charge should be dropped as she is not a victim.

“They’re trying to use me as a victim and to make it look worse on his case. My husband has absolutely never laid his hands on me ever. He is not an abusive man, ever … quite the opposite. He is extremely doting.”

Though Whitney is taking up for her husband, the police claim that during the PTSD flare-up, Kristoffer chased the woman with a knife in front of her children and that she was forced to seek refuge in a neighbor’s home when the scene turned violent. The police report indicates that both of the couple’s children were initially taken into DHS custody, but eventually returned to Whitney.

What do you think? Should Kristoffer Lewandowski face such severe charges since medical marijuana is legal in many states? Or are the charges justified since marijuana is illegal in Oklahoma? Should Lewandowski’s service in the U.S. Marines be taken into consideration, as they resulted in the medical disability that the man was treating with the illegal plant? Is even six years in prison too much for this offense?

[Image Credit: Lewandowski Family via GoFundMe]