Moral turpitude charges dropped against nurse

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Nurse and medical marijuana (cannabis) nurse Dolores Halbin, of Pierce City helps educate Missouri residents and gather signatures to legalize medicinal marijuana in Missouri, which she says is “proven science.” She was recently cleared of moral turpitude charges by the Missouri State Board of Nursing after she was charged with possessing and using marijuana three years ago to help her husband with debilitating eye pain from a severe glaucoma condition. Halbin currently volunteers full-time as a patient advocate, and plans to renew her nursing license. Contributed photo

Attorney: 'We are way behind the curve'

After a three-year fight to set her record straight and make medical marijuana available to sick children, the Missouri State Board of Nursing dropped charges of 'moral turpitude' against registered nurse turned medicinal marijuana advocate Dolores Halbin.

Halbin's journey has been strewn with debris and devastation, including the loss of her husband. In March 2014, Halbin, who now resides in Pierce City, was asked to resign from her job as a registered nurse by the Board after her home was raided by police for cannabis plants used to treat her husband’s severe glaucoma pain that would not respond to conventional treatment.

She was charged with possession of marijuana less than 35 grams in her home, a misdemeanor, and accused of moral turpitude by the Board, which, Halbin says, put her in the same class as rapists and murderers.

"I was asked to resign the day we were raided in 2014," said Halbin. "It's been a long haul. I was cleared of those charges following a hearing in Jefferson City before the Board in August."

In their letter, Halbin said the Board referred to marijuana as "having a highly addictive nature," which Halbin says science has proven otherwise, leading her to be upset with fellow nurses.

"We are supposed to be on the side of science,” she said. “Cannabis medicine is proven science. So proven that in 1998, the federal government took out a patent on medical marijuana — patent No. 6630507. Narcotic and opioid deaths are markedly down in legal medical marijuana states. Arkansas just adopted a petition almost identical to ours.”

To be clear, Halbin's license was never suspended, but could have been had the Board pressed the charges. Even so, in the last three years, Halbin did not attempt to work as a nurse because of the impact of the possession charge.

"Had I been convicted, I would have had moral turpitude on my permanent record and most likely would have lost my license," she said. "Being charged with moral turpitude pretty well kills job opportunities. The State Board did me the good graces to seal the records, but just having the drug charges on my criminal record is enough to make it so I can't even volunteer at church summer camp."

Halbin said she would repeat her actions to help her husband if she had to, but didn't fully understand the risks.

"I had no idea the consequences were going to be the death penalty [for my husband], who was denied cannabis treatment while incarcerated and died," Halbin said. "I thought if he got caught, they would slap him on the wrist. I never thought they would arrest and charge me. I thought wrong. To me, moral turpitude is forcing a mother to leave behind her husband and sons to get on a midnight train to Colorado with a six-year old epileptic child.”

"It would have been moral turpitude for Mrs. Halbin to not allow her husband to seek pain relief," said Columbia-based Attorney Dan Viets, who represented Halbin at the hearing.

According to scientific research, cannabis has helped successfully treat and even reverse many life-crippling conditions conventional medicine has no remedy or relief for, like glaucoma, epilepsy, neuropathy, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, PTSD for veterans, multiple sclerosis and cancer. 

Halbin said conventional medicine offers include severe side effects and death from narcotics and Black Box meds, and children are dying and families are devastated.

Since learning about the effects of the medicinal plant and plight of epileptic children and families who are out of options, Halbin has volunteered full-time as a patient advocate through the American Cannabis Nurses Association, Patients Out of Time, Missouri Cannabis Nurses Association and National Cannabis Patient Wall.

“All of these groups are a great source of information and resources for patients with no other options left,” she said.

The Board’s decision is a victory for Halbin, but she is not yet satisfied.

"I think nothing is going to feel good until the moms on Facebook I work with get what they need for their kids," Halbin said. "The victories are great personal victories for me, but the hardest thing for me to do right now is to say I have a good life. “[Like the families], I’m a refugee of the cannabis wars, too. I had a home, a husband. I can be a nurse again, but there's no celebration in that for me because of the kids. I can't until we can all celebrate — that's when the party will happen.” 

Halbin wants to educate Barry County residents about the safety and effectiveness of cannabis.

"Cannabis is to epilepsy what insulin is to a diabetic," she said. "I'd like to do something on a grassroots level and have some town hall meetings. Our government is propagating an absolute lie, and families are split up and destroyed because of it. The government is guilty of medical abuse and neglect of our children, and our veterans are sick and dying. The government is practicing medicine without a license. We were sold down the river and continue to be slaves of big fat pharma."

Halbin cited a Kansas mother who boarded a train with her six-year old epileptic son to relocate to Colorado, a legal medical marijuana state, leaving her other children and husband behind, in order to save his life. 

"She got off at the first stop in Colorado," Halbin said. "They were met at the train station with rescue meds. He barely made it. Little kids shouldn't have to get on trains and leave their families to get the medical treatment they need. That's just unconscionable. It reminds me of refugees, and we're doing this to little kids."

She cited many other families who have lost a child from epileptic seizures in Missouri, including a boy in Nevada, who died three days after graduation.

Halbin said the stigma is one of the last hurdles to overcome in the fight to legalize medicinal marijuana in Missouri.

"Cannabis is not the 'devil's weed,'" she said. "We're still fighting the stigma. God gave us this plant to heal us from a multitude of illnesses. What would Jesus do in this situation? I don't think He would deny or withhold sick children insulin."

Halbin said there are epileptic children in Barry County whose families have sought treatment with legalized CBD oil, but may be afraid to come forward because of that stigma.

"There are families in this area who are taking their [epileptic] children to St. Louis to get on the oil, but are afraid to come forward," Halbin said. "There's a child in Cassville who got on the treatment and is markedly improved. It would mean so much if they would come forward."

Viets, who is also chair of the New Approach Missouri campaign to legalize medicinal marijuana, believes it will become legal in Missouri.

"Thirty states have made it legal, 29 plus Washington, so we are way behind the curve," he said. "But, we are absolutely moving forward every day. We have hundreds of people across state gathering signatures. We are over 125,000 now, and need 170,000 on the ballot to qualify." 

"A lot of people are going to die before we even get it on the ballot," Halbin said. "We don't get to vote on this until November of next year. Lots of governors across the country have said 'enough.' Gov. Eric Greitens is all over the opioid epidemic on Facebook. He is the only one that could really save us. He has the ability to stop this nonsense. He could declare this a medical state."

For more information on the legalization efforts of cannabis in Missouri, people may visit www.newapproachmissouri.com.

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