Terry Altier is spending what he tells us will be the final days of his life in his Soperton home, but he may soon have to spend them in jail for growing medical marijuana.
“I live with two thirds of my body in severe nerve pain,” Altier said.
Altier told me, his doctors have diagnosed him with a degenerative nerve disorder and spinal injury, and says he hasn’t been given long to live.
“They discovered my body could not tolerate the strong narcotics of morphine…and a whole myriad of other very strong opiates,” he said.
So he showed us prescription bottles for a medicine called Marinol, a legal form of synthetic THC for his pain.
“The name brand is $3700 for a month prescription. For the generic which they came out with probably about eight years ago…it’s $900,” he said.
But after Altier’s partner died, the pills became difficult to afford, so he planted seven marijuana plants on his property and used them to help curb his pain.
The Truetlen County Sheriff’s Office discovered the plants and arrested Altier. He was convicted of marijuana charges and could be sentenced Tuesday to four years in jail.
“There’s a man who could not afford the medication that was prescribed to him, so he’s growing it himself to do what the medication would otherwise do and that makes it a felony,” said Jonathan Morrison, who is representing Altier.
Altier’s neighbor and caregiver Henry Herndon says if he gets the maximum sentence he doesn’t think he’ll survive.
“For as sick as he is to give him four years in prison — that would kill him,” Herndon said.
If Altier doesn’t get the maximum sentence he says he plans to move as soon as possible.
We reached out to Sheriff Thomas Corbin.
He referred questions on the case to Craig Fraser, the county’s district attorney. Fraser did not return our phone calls.