By AMY LINDBLOM
Because of a California Supreme Court decision this summer, Myron Carl Mower's criminal record is clean again.
Convicted in Tuolumne County Superior Court in 1998 of growing marijuana at his Twain Harte home, Mower, a 40-year-old legally blind, frail and ill diabetic spent four years and four months on probation for raising the plants that help him stave off starvation, dehydration and constant pain.
Then, in a far-reaching decision welcomed by medicinal marijuana users nationwide, the state's high court justices ruled in July that Mower should have been allowed to use his medical condition as a defense.
Within days of the decision, the Tuolumne County district attorney's office dropped all charges.
For this landmark case, Mower is a Top 10 Newsmaker for 2002.
Mower's wife, Laurie, said she sees the Supreme Court decision as a victory for her husband and other ill people who legitimately use marijuana to ease their symptoms.
"My husband is not a crook, and I'm not a druggie," Laurie Mower said. "Myron was put on this Earth for a reason. He's here to get the marijuana laws changed. We get e-mails from people all over the country who have heard about Myron."
Mower smokes marijuana to combat his almost constant pain. More than a dozen daily pills and insulin shots keep him alive, and marijuana helps numb his pain and calm the nausea caused by a gastrointestinal disorder. It also clears his vision enough so he can see the shape of someone's face with the 10 percent capacity he has remaining in his left eye.
"If there was ever someone who should not have been prosecuted, it was Myron," said former Tuolumne County Deputy Public Defender Karen Davis, who represented Mower in his first trial.
"It was so difficult to see him so sick during the trial, and he just didn't need to go through it."
Davis said she followed the Mower case through to the last appeal.
"He is not a criminal and never did anything wrong."