Kansas Man Facing 25 Years For Cannabis That Stopped Chronic Seizures

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Above Photo: Washington DC. April 2, 2016. A Rally for the legalization of Marijuana featured speakers, a giant inflatable joint and a Smoke-In at 4:20. (Photo: Susan Melkisethian)

“I don’t want to think about it.”

A Kansas resident is facing 25 years in prison for growing a single marijuana plant. Larry Burgess, a cancer survivor, turned to marijuana when prescription drugs failed to alleviate his seizure disorder. 

No Cannabis Love in Kansas

“No seizure medication helped. In fact, my seizures got progressively worse over time. It was terrible. Terrible. At my lowest I contemplated suicide,” Burgess told KCTV5 News. At one point, he was taking 23 pills per day to combat the seizures with little effect.

Fredonia, Kan., authorities were possibly tipped off when Burgess chronicled his marijuana-growing endeavors on Instagram. 

“Mary is growing good. What a beautiful girl. The quality seizure medicine I’m going to extract out of her,” Burgess captioned a photo of the plant, which remains illegal in Kansas for all purposes, including medicinal.

Police came knocking and after arresting him, kept him in custody at the jail. A few hours later, security footage obtained by KCTV5 showed Burgess suffering a seizure.

The judge for Burgess’ case granted him a special bail provision, allowing him to move to Colorado. There, he holds a medical marijuana card. His case is still pending and has been postponed to an undetermined date, giving Burgess and his wife anxiety.

“I don’t want to think about it because I just feel like if we try to. If we try to figure out what we’re going to do. We’re going to fall apart trying to figure it out,” Shannon Burgess said.

Cannabis has slowly become more acceptable across the states, even as federal law continues to consider it a Schedule 1 drug. Eleven states, including Colorado where Burgess now resides, have permitted recreational use. Others that have not legalized the substance, have seen legislative pushes to do so and have reduced penalties and even expunged records for prior convictions. 

In Kansas, however, the gains have been nonexistent. Kansas’ largest city, Wichita, attempted to legalize it at a city level, but a court case brought by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt was thrown out on technical grounds that a referendum had been improperly filed with the city.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Democrat, has been on the record as willing to legalize it, but three bills in the state legislature were stalled in 2019. Governor Kelly’s office declined to comment on the matter and referred Citizen Truth to Schmidt’s office. Requests for comments from Schmidt went unanswered.

Burgess was charged with three felonies: growing marijuana, manufacturing a controlled substance, and using a cellular or computer device to facilitate the commission of a felony, according to Bruce Kennedy, reporting for Leafly, a marijuana news outlet.

‘Overcome with Emotion’

Cannabis was not the first thing Burgess tried to cure his condition of grand mal seizures. Their severity meant he was incapable of keeping a full-time job for the past 10 years. He began experiencing them in 2009. 

Pssst, while you’re here…


“I’d had several concussions as a child and then a couple in high school and one from a car crash incident,” he said. “They never actually pinpointed what caused my seizures to start, but it was probably one of those.”

Once the seizures, often lasting up to 2 minutes, end, Burgess experiences a loss of energy and cognitive ability. Cannabis, he said, both reduces the number of seizures and the time it takes to recover from them. 

Doctors tried several prescription drugs and his general physician referred him to a Wichita hospital, which ran a number of tests including spinal taps and cat scans. Ultimately, they attributed the seizures to ‘conversion disorder,’ a psychological condition. 

As a kid, Burgess was sexually abused, and he said he repressed thoughts of it until he became a father himself. Wichita doctors indicated that situation could be the reason for the seizures. 

In 2013, Burgess and his wife went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where he was diagnosed with grand mal seizures, not conversion disorder.

He began purchasing marijuana from Denver, a strain called The Industrial Plant that his research indicated had helped other people manage chronic seizures.

The first time he smoked two joints in Denver, he experienced a sound, seizure-free sleep. 

“I was overcome with emotion,” Burgess said. “I called my wife; she was sobbing, I was sobbing. And from that moment on I was an advocate. Trying that was a life-changer.”

Now, after uprooting his family and moving to Colorado, his life hinges upon the court case in Kansas. Burgess was clear he would not defy a bench warrant or try to evade the trial. Doing so would only result in Colorado police arresting him and extraditing him. 

Burgess is open to a plea deal, he said, for misdemeanors, but doesn’t believe it is fair to have felonies on his record over it.

The Wilson County prosecutor did not respond to KCTV5’s request for comment.

  • jwreitter

    Stop the drug war! Especially for medical use. Bernie is in favor of legalizing cannabis for all who want it or need it. I visited a prison where half the inmates were non-violent drug offenders. It costs over $50,000 a year to keep each prisoner in jail. They could go to college for a lot less. What a waste of money. What a waste of lives!

  • Infarction

    Only when the corporate pharmaceutical parasites can gain sufficient leverage to reap profits from cannabis will their servants in Washington eradicate these absurd drug laws.

  • Sabrina

    It’s all about control. One day these laws will be laughed at Full legalization now – go Bernie!

  • SupernaturalCat

    “…authorities were possibly tipped off when Burgess chronicled his marijuana-growing endeavors on Instagram.”

    Granted, probably not the brightest move advertising growing weed in ultra right-wing Kansas …but what this really speaks to is far more sinister: there are obviously authoritarians in Kansas (no surprise, that, but are they members of one of these civilian snitch orgs that work with the FBI?) taking it upon themselves to serveil social media in hopes of finding something, anything, they can go and ‘tattle’ to the piggies about! …ya know, to get one-a-them pot smokin’ commies in TROUBLE and ruin their lives! YAY!!!! …’cause that’s what good little twistoid fascist bootlickers do. Here’s hoping karma is one mean mother f*cker for them.

  • The US for profit prison industry have guaranteed occupancy contracts meaning that even if a cell is empty they still get paid [stupendous amounts of public funds] and kickbacks to judges who have proven to be corrupt.

    People can decide for themselves if want to consume Marijuana or not – I don’t consume due to health reasons – but I don’t believe it should be a misdemeanor/criminal offense for those that decide they want to.

    The reason for the prohibition of worlds natural medicine is simply because it empowers the politically corrupt.

    Politicians regard themselves as being exceptional – why are they free to commit war crimes while the working class is needlessly sent into harms way just so the politicians and their corporate sponsors will reap the financial benefits.

    I would like to see it come to stage where politicians are checked on a daily basis just to ensure that all is well – after all they are meant to provide a role model example.

  • All the same those silly drug laws could be eradicated with a more humane government.

    The ongoing prohibition serves to control the populace – the consequences of a conviction sets off a chain reaction which ruins lives and entire families but it also empowers corrupt politicians all the way to the for profit prison industry and ultimately people being denied to vote.

    I would like to know how big pharma is able to import the raw materials such as opium from Afghanistan for pain killers by the shipping container without ever being intercepted .

  • Indeed its all about control – for what its worth – the US should no longer be controlled by the corporately controlled Duopoly.

  • pinOKYO nOSE

    i used to smoke the pot so i know what i’m talking about when i say that i don’t relish the thought of sharing the road with pot head drivers.
    other than that it should be legal IMO.

  • Leland Roth

    Reposted from http://www.cuzzblue.com/2020/02/michigan-man-serving-up-to-60-years-for.html?showComment=1582066171429&m=1#c3621828125627833330 :

    Leland Roth18 February 2020 at 14:49

    I was busted for pot in a big plastic bag (under a ‘lid’, though 🙄 in 1971 @ a Who concert by an undercover nark @ old Met stadium ~ now Minnesota’s MegaMall’s location)

    Fortunately my parents hired a rich lawyer💰 who got me off from a jail sentence with only a year parole instead as I then went to college to eventually graduate with a pre-law degree…which I never used.

    I didn’t learn this below info about our second 13th amendment in college, either…

    In the second 13th amendment it says basically u r a ‘slave’s if arrested & convicted for ANYTHING that the state deems an offence @ the time…Let Michael Thompson go ~ u idiots….🔥 (Let Larry Burgess, go, too,…u idiots⚡)

  • Sink Chicken

    It has been written that the prison industrial complex is a 25 billion dollar industry.
    Soon everything will be illegal?

  • kevinzeese

    You were not deleted. Re you sure you posted the comment?

  • Leland Roth

    ABSOLUTELY…Last nite 🎶