Scott Enlow is a living example of the argument for medical marijuana — a very reluctant example.
The former Pike County constable and McComb firefighter was charged with possession of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana. Enlow, 55, of Magnolia, said he used it in small doses for severe medical issues.
Enlow pleaded guilty to a bill of information to possession of 2 to 10 grams of THC. Pike County Circuit Court Judge David Strong withheld acceptance of the plea and will drop charges after Enlow serves four years probation and pays a $3,500 fine and restitution.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana. Enlow served 12 years as Pike County Southern District constable and 27 years with the McComb Fire Department.
Enlow’s problems began at fire academy in 1985 when he fell off a wall and landed on his outstretched left arm.
“It bent it back at the elbow,” he said in an interview Tuesday afternoon at his home on Magnolia-Progress Road. “My palm was touching my shoulder.”
He was off work for a year going through surgery and rehab.
“I didn’t have chronic pain after that for a long time,” he said.
In 2001 on a bear hunt in Maine the pain returned. Enlow went to a doctor and wound up on a pain management regimen. Over the next 20 years the doctor tried hydrocodone, oxycodone, Oxycontin and Tramadol, “trying to find something that would control the pain, mostly hydrocodone,” Enlow said.
At first he took it as needed but wound up taking three to four pills a day as prescribed. The opioid epidemic hit, and doctors were restricted in the amounts they could prescribe, cutting Enlow’s dose from 120 pills a month to 90. Each month he had to go to the doctor, undergo a urine test and get a new prescription.
In 2019 he started researching natural remedies and began taking CBD oil (cannabidiol), a marijuana derivative that’s legal in Mississippi and available at local stores.
“It was amazing,” Enlow said.
He used it both topically and under the tongue, even though a nurse practitioner warned him that if he tested positive for marijuana he would have to quit the pain management program.
But he stuck with CBD, and in January 2020 decided to stop taking hydrocodone altogether, even though his doctor warned he should taper off it gradually.
“I cold-turkeyed from taking the pain medicine,” Enlow said.
Even though he had been taking hydrocodone as prescribed, he began undergoing horrific withdrawal symptoms. Within a week he lost his appetite and began experiencing severe nausea, chills and dramatic weight loss, as well as pain in places he had never experienced.
Unwilling to go back on opioids, he researched natural remedies for withdrawal symptoms and found a company in California that sold THC in “live resin” form, which he compared to pine sap.
“It’s legal in California. It’s not legal to possess it here, and I knew that, but I was fighting some tough symptoms,” Enlow said. “THC is a way to get off opioids.”
Starting in January 2020 he mixed careful doses of the resin with olive oil, applied it to his skin and took it under his tongue.
“Within a few days of taking that I got my appetite back,” Enlow said. “I stopped having night sweats. It was a miracle, the way it helped me.”
He said the doses he took did not make him high.
“That wasn’t my goal, to get intoxicated,” Enlow said. “My goal was to get the medical benefits. It worked.”
He received THC shipments in the mail every three months. Unknown to him, postal inspectors flagged them and notified the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
In September 2020 he went to his mailbox, took out his package of THC, and found himself confronted by MBN agents. To his surprise, nine officers in tactical gear with assault rifles raided his home, taking his computer.
Represented by attorney Jason Tate, Enlow decided to skip the grand jury process.
“I did it. I was willing to take my licks,” he said.
This past Sept. 28, Judge Strong “non-adjudicated” the case, meaning charges will be dropped after conditions are met, a process sometimes used for first-time nonviolent offenders.
“I’m so thankful for that,” Enlow said, noting prison was another option.
In addition to the fine, Enlow was ordered to pay $200 restitution each to MBN and the District Attorney’s office, and must pay $50 a month to the probation office for the next four years.
There’s a lot of irony in his case. Medical marijuana is legal in California, where he bought the drug. Mississippi voters approved medical marijuana last year, but the process got stalled in litigation. Meanwhile, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor.
“I wouldn’t be facing a felony if I just smoked dope,” Enlow said, noting he preferred to get the exact medical dose of THC, which can’t be done by smoking marijuana.
He said he possessed a small amount of THC for personal, medical use. He was charged with possession of 2 to 10 grams — Enlow said 10 grams is the size of a nickel.
“I’m not El Chapo,” he said, referring to the notorious Mexican drug cartel leader.
“My crime was committed sitting in my recliner in my home by myself. I’m not minimizing it. But I didn’t have any effect on anybody.”
He still hasn’t returned to opioid medications, instead relying on CBD oil and over-the-counter pain meds like Naproxen and Tylenol. He just wishes there was a way for people with health issues like his to take marijuana derivatives legally under a doctor’s care.
“I will be so glad to see it passed — and I may never see it — when people won’t have to face the consequences I did,” Enlow said.