By MICHAEL MOORE of the Missoulian
Robin Prosser, a Missoula woman who struggled for a quarter century to live with the pain of an immunosuppressive disorder, tried years ago to kill herself. Last week, she tried again. This time, she succeeded.
After her earlier attempt failed, Prosser wound up in even more trouble after investigating police found marijuana in her home. She used the marijuana to help cope with pain.
That marijuana charge was eventually dropped in an agreement with the city of Missoula, and Prosser had reason to rejoice in 2004 when Montanans passed a law allowing medical use of the drug.
She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.
The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.
At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws” by seizing such shipments.
“I feel immensely let down,” Prosser would write a few months later, in a guest opinion for the Billings Gazette published July 28. “I have no safety, no protection, no help just to survive in a little less pain. I can't even get a job due to my medical marijuana use - can't pass a drug test.”
Federal prosecutors declined to charge Prosser, but fear spread through the system of marijuana distribution set up in the wake of the medical marijuana act. Friends said Prosser turned to other sources for marijuana, but found problems nearly everywhere she turned.
“Most recently, she had found some people who said they could get her what she needed, but it didn't go well,” said her friend Jane Byard.
Without the relief that marijuana delivered to her, Robin Prosser killed herself at home last week. She was 50.
Prosser suffered from an autoimmune disease that gave her allergic and dangerous reactions to most pharmaceutical painkillers. So she turned to marijuana. When that was no longer available she had no where else to turn.
“She just said she couldn't take it all anymore,” Byard said.
In her guest opinion, Prosser wrote that: “I'm 50 years old, low-income and sick. I spend most days in my apartment in bed, with no air conditioning, unable to go outside because I can't tolerate the sun.”
Beset by financial problems, troubled by depression, unable to find a reliable source of pain relief, she took her own life three months after the piece was published.
“Give me liberty or give me death,” she wrote in July. “Maybe the next campaign ought to be for assisted-suicide laws in our state. If they will not allow me to live in peace, and a little less pain, would they help me to die, humanely?”
Before being disabled by her disease, Prosser was a concert pianist and a systems analyst. After the disease hit her, she became a tireless advocate for legalized use of marijuana in medical situations.
“She had so many difficulties, but she was a wonderful person,” Byard said. “She was kind and funny and just as smart as a whip. She was a very good friend to me, and it's a very sad story what happened to her.”
Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or by
e-mail at email@example.com
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