“Statistically, I’m supposed to be dead,” says Don Haumant, 57, as he sits in his Minneapolis living room, the winter light coming in through half-closed shades.
The one-bedroom apartment is decorated with period furniture – “You might be comfortable on a mission chair,” he offers a guest – and flourishes of 1950s and Hollywood memorabilia. Above the couch is a photograph of MGM’s studio players from Tinseltown’s golden era. Clark Gable anchors the shot.
“There’s not a whole lot that can be done,” said the onetime actor, his speech leisurely but his posture crisp. “That’s why I’ve had to take it upon myself to do the things that are within my power to live a better life. And one of the things I’ve done is find the substances that are the most helpful and least damaging.”
Haumant has liver disease and muscle pain, which he manages by smoking marijuana. He has done it with the knowledge of his doctors, and, while living in California, he did it legally.
But when he moved to Minnesota in 2002 to be nearer his boyhood home of Frederic, Wis., Haumant became an outlaw.
“It’s much more of a stigma here,” Haumant said. “In the circles that I travel, people are pretty much accepting of it, and public opinion is pretty much in favor of it. But still there are very strong forces here that consider me to be a criminal and an addict.”
Haumant is one of the few advocates for a pair of medical marijuana bills moving through the Minnesota Legislature who will confess to breaking the law. The bills are expected on the floors of the House and Senate within weeks and come as President Barack Obama’s administration has signaled a seismic shift in federal attitudes toward state medical marijuana laws.
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