Sad Day in the Medical Marijuana Movement: Medical Marijuana Patient and Activist Cheryl Miller Passes Away at 57 6/13/03

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Cheryl Miller, a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer who became a potent and prominent activist for medical marijuana, died of her disease Saturday morning in a hospital near the Silverton, New Jersey, home she shared with her husband and fellow activist, Jim. Funeral services were held in New Jersey this week, and her ashes will be interred in her native Oklahoma.

Cheryl Miller
(photos courtesy IMMLY)

 
Miller, who found that marijuana provided more effective relief for her pain and other symptoms than any other pharmaceutical agent and who typically used it in a tincture or in foods made using marijuana butter -- she was never a recreational smoker -- became increasingly visible in the medical marijuana movement, participating with her husband in medical marijuana marches, with Jim pushing her wheelchair, or later, hospital bed, as they marched. By the late 1990s, the Millers had turned their activism up a notch, with Cheryl publicly taking her medicine from her bed in front of the New Jersey state capitol in 1997, and again at the office of US Rep. James Rogan (R-CA) -- a one-time medical marijuana supporter in California's assembly who changed his tune for the worse after entering Congress -- in 1998.

 

Jim & Cheryl Miller with
Gary Storck & Jacki Rickert,
outside Bob Barr's office

The following year, the Millers joined in protests at the offices of uber-drug warrior Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), with Jim carrying Cheryl from her wheelchair and laying her in front of Barr's office door. While New Jersey state troopers were too embarrassed to arrest Cheryl and Jim, the congressman had no such compunctions. [Barr, fine specimen of prosecutorial humanity that he is, sneeringly called Cheryl "a human prop."] The Millers treated their arrests as another means of education and agitation -- the Capitol-focused newspaper "Roll Call" ran a photo of Jim and Cheryl with supporting demonstrators blocking Barr's office doorway -- and used their prosecutions to spread the word about marijuana's soothing powers.

A member of the advisory board of the Wisconsin-based medical marijuana rights group Is My Medicine Legal Yet (http://www.immly.org) and founder of the Cherylheart Project (http://www.cherylheart.org), Miller helped engineer Barr's downfall last year. As part of a Libertarian Party campaign to oust the "worst of the worst" drug warriors from Congress, Cheryl played a starring role in commercials run against Barr in last year's primary. "Bob Barr thinks I should be in jail for using my medicine," said bedridden Miller, struggling to speak. "Why would you do that to me, Bob?" [Voice-over]: "When the drug war turns on our own sick and dying, it's gone too far. And so has Bob Barr." Then Miller, struggling again, repeats: "Why would you do that to me, Bob?"

Barr lost that primary.

Cheryl and Jim Miller were supposed to be at the annual NORML conference in San Francisco in April to accept the Peter McWilliams Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Cause of Medical Marijuana, but IMMLY founder Jacki Rickert and IMMLY member Gary Storck had to accept for the Millers. Cheryl was too sick to make the trip. Cheryl also didn't make it to Washington one last time to lobby Congress in support of Barney Frank's "States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act," as she and supporters had hoped to do this year, due to a delay in the reintroduction of the bill until last month, for which they were waiting.

Storck has promised that a larger patient delegation than they were initially planning will come to Washington, in Cheryl's honor, and the visit may include an event for members of the public to come out and meet them.

This article offers only the barest beginning of a tribute to Cheryl Miller's life and contributions to the movement. Visit http://www.cherylheart.org and http://www.immly.org to learn more.

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Issue #291, 6/13/03 Editorial: The Rule of Law | Global Social Forum Meeting in Cartagena to Draw Broad Spectrum of Global Activists for Colombia Focus -- DRCNet Will Be There | Anatomy of a Victory: How Reformers Rolled Back Souder and the Drug Czar | Ontario Marijuana Laws in the Twilight Zone | Jacksonville Hemp Fest Marred by Police Violence, Warrant Issued for Organizer for Obstructing (In)Justice | Drug Reform and the Democratic Presidential Nominating Process | Sad Day in the Medical Marijuana Movement: Medical Marijuana Patient and Activist Cheryl Miller Passes Away at 57 | DRCNet Urgently Needs Your Donations -- Sullum Book Offer Still Going | This Week in History | Newsbrief: European Union Presidency Calls for Frank Discussion of Drug Laws | Newsbrief: Demonstrations Mark Thailand Drug War Killings | Newsbrief: Oregon Medical Marijuana Provider Gets Prison Time | Newsbrief: Drug Czar Declares War on Summer | Newsbrief: Supreme Courts Again Says No to Cincinnati Drug Zone Ban Law | The Reformer's Calendar
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