Advocate remembered for fight to legalize medical marijuana

December 18, 2007

Michael Moore, The Missoulian (MT)

Robin Prosser is gone, dead at her own hand.

But for the 30 or so people who gathered at University Congregational Church to memorialize Prosser on Wednesday, it's easy to see how her hand was forced.

By pain. By depression. By poverty. By her own government.

“We can't properly honor Robin and her life without recognizing the truth of what the government's marijuana prohibition policy did to her, physically, emotionally, spiritually,” said Tom Daubert. “We can't properly honor what Robin struggled for years to achieve without crying out in rage at the forces of insanity and even sadism that destroyed her.”

Prosser suffered chronic pain due to a form of lupus that made it impossible for her to use prescribed pain medications. So she used marijuana instead.

She was an active proponent of the statewide initiative that approved medical marijuana use in Montana, and thought at least some of her problems had been solved by its passage.

In late March, however, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration seized a small amount of marijuana that was being shipped to her by an authorized provider. At the time, a DEA agent said the federal government was “protecting people from their own state laws” by seizing such shipments.

Six months later, robbed of the only thing that brought her relief, Prosser was dead at age 50.

She was, said those who knew her, a talented pianist, a mother who loved her daughter, a friend who gave when she literally had nothing but time to give.

She was funny, too, in a wicked sort of way. And she was tireless, even as disease and pain drained her last reserves.

“She smiled a lot, even when she was hurting,” said her friend Paul Befumo, who worked with her on the medical marijuana initiative.

Byron Weber said Prosser taught him what it meant to be poor and sick with dignity.

“She was a teacher,” Weber said.

She taught Daubert a lesson in patience and perseverance.

“She also taught me to look underneath what you can see on the outside of people and find their core, because while our differences may be many on the physical level, our similarities, if we take the time to look for them, are always much more numerous,” Daubert said.

Prosser, Weber said, “needed a break, but couldn't seem to get one.” Still, she fought her pain. She also fought for others with similar pain, working to legalize the use of marijuana for those who need it, friends said.

“I applaud her for her bravery in that,” said Angela Goodhope.

In a way, Wednesday's memorial was a lot like Prosser. Daubert gave an impassioned, at times angry, speech about government drug policy, while other friends cried and told touching, small stories.

Prosser could be both sides of that coin, an abiding friend and a fierce advocate.

Her life touched those who knew her, and they sense her presence and inspiration as they move through their daily lives.

“I am going to take the very important lessons that Robin Prosser taught me and incorporate them in my daily life, in part by reaching out more to people whom we as a society often isolate, whether we mean to or not,” Daubert said. “I hope you will, too.”

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or at mmoore@missoulian.com.



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