Illegal Act of Love: Wife Says Husband Grew Pot For Her
May 06, 2011 - Autumn Ziemba Fox 8 Reporter
A Medina County senior citizen is sentenced to jail time for cultivating marijuana that he says was medicinal for his wife with cancer.
Friday, 69-year-old Gary Burton was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 30 days house arrest and two years probation, with credit for time served.
Burton was arrested in January for cultivating marijuana in excess of 1,000 grams, which is a third degree felony.
But some argue that Burton's reason for committing the crime far outweighs the law.
"He was just trying to take care of me, the best way he knew how," says a tearful Sherri Burton, Gary's wife of 44 years.
Sherri suffers from depression and anxiety, and was diagnosed with breast cancer that has now spread to her lymph nodes.
The diagnosis was a major blow to the couple.
"If I didn't have Gary there to hang onto me and hold me and say 'it's okay,' I probably wouldn't have gotten through a lot of those days," Sherri says.
But she says Gary wanted to ease her fear and pain with something natural that he could provide on his own.
"[The marijuana has] helped me in sleeping at night. Even though I'm on other medication, it's helped me to relax and not be consumed by the cancer," Sherri explains.
The couple planted two marijuana plants in a secluded spot in their own Chippewa Lake back yard.
Sherri says they chose to grow their own because they wanted it to be pure and free of chemicals.
Gary is now serving his sentence at the Medina County Jail--a sentence some consider to be lenient, but to Sherri, it might as well be a lifetime.
"I don't even want to think about the next 60 days. I don't even want to think about tomorrow," she says.
Their vow was 'in sickness and in health,' but with Gary behind bars, Sherri will have to endure her next two months of treatment alone.
"I refuse to go for surgery unless he's by my side. I need him by my side," she says. "We just want to relax and enjoy what time we have left, and who knows how long that will be. Nobody knows."
Now Sherri want to public to understand one thing.
"Marijuana is not as evil or bad as they think it is," she says. "They need to keep an open mind, and someday, they may need it themselves."
The couple hasn't had health insurance since Gary retired several years ago.
It's possible they may also lose their social security benefits while Gary is behind bars.
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