“I really don’t even feel like it’s over yet,” Lapihuska said Monday from where he has been staying in Talladega County. “I don’t – maybe after I get back to California.”
Lapihuska, a former Anniston resident, was arrested in December 2009 on possession of marijuana charges, after being detained by a police officer for allegedly hitchhiking on McClellan Boulevard near Walmart. Since then, he has been in Alabama waiting for his case to go to trial.
With no access to his medication, Lapihuska, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depression, says he is now suffering a relapse of the symptoms he had been able to control with his medical marijuana prescription. But, while he is eager to go back to California where he can get his prescription in a safe environment, he feels like he compromised by accepting the deal.
“I feel like I should have fought even more,” he said. “The reason why I took the deal is because they said it was the best deal that I was going to get. I do agree that I broke the law, like I said before. But this law is so wrong to me.”
Loretta Nall, executive director of Alabamians for Compassionate Care and an outspoken proponent of relaxing marijuana restrictions, sees the agreement as a victory. Lapihuska had served time in jail for drug charges in Alabama before he moved to California, and he could have been sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison, she said.
“I’m ecstatic,” Nall said. “I do see it as a victory for our political advocacy around Michael. … A complete victory would have been, they would have thrown the case out, but this is as close to that as we’re going to get.”
Lapihuska, however, said he believes if he had gotten in front of a jury, he could have convinced people that the law is unjust and maybe helped people in the state who could benefit from legal marijuana. Still, he’s eager to get back home to California after a year of waiting.
“I compromised and they compromised, and I guess that’s fine,” he said.
Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.