Pot Bust Brings Up Medicinal Use Issue

July 19, 2007

Liz Nagy, NBC29 (VA)

An Albemarle County drug case is relighting the conversation about medical marijuana. Gary Peck was on the receiving end of the biggest pot bust ever in the county, but won't go to jail for it. Some say the issue isn't what he did, but why he did it.

Police say Gary Peck was growing $10,000 worth of marijuana behind his home in Scottsville. But he never sold so much as a leaf of it. The pot was for his wife--so sick, she needed it every day.

"The police looked and they couldn't find a soul who'd ever bought from him and Gary says 'I've never sold it to anybody-I wouldn't want to. The only reason I was doing this was so my wife could smoke it and stay alive,'" stated Lloyd Snook, Gary Peck's attorney. 

Gary's wife Cindy Peck suffers from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's-like tremors, and extreme nausea.

"The marijuana is the only thing that helps," said Snook. "Gary decided 'I don't want to buy it on the streets, go to neighborhoods where I would have to go to buy it. I'll grow it at home."

Even though he knew it was illegal.

"Knowing it was illegal, but feeling desperate it was the only way to keep his wife alive," explained Snook. 

Since he was arrested,  NBC29 was told his wife's medical condition has gone downhill.

A doctor we talked to at UVA says research proves marijuana is more effective and cheaper than the synthetic prescription alternative. "Response has been more than 90 percent of people think that marijuana is better than commercially available THC marinol," said Dr. Robin Hammell-Ruth. 

Given her medical backround, Dr. Hammell-Ruth says Gary Peck's situation is unfortunate.

She says, "It bothers me that he should be put in a position of having to do something to provide relief for his wife. I would certainly hope we would be moving toward approving it for medical use."

NBC29 tried several times to contact the Pecks but were not able to.

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