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Published: Friday, 9/15/2006

Activist battled to pass medical marijuana laws

Asbury Asbury
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Daniel Gene Asbury, 50, a Toledo-area activist who spent more than 20 years lobbying state legislators to introduce the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, died Wednesday in Flower Hospital from complications of a massive heart attack.

Mr. Asbury, an ardent environmentalist, also was opposed to the expansion of the Envirosafe Services of Ohio Inc. site near his South Wheeling Street home in Oregon.

A quadriplegic, Mr. Asbury, who used a wheelchair after a fall that left him paralyzed from the chest down 26 years ago, relied on marijuana to ease the pain of muscle spasms, his sister, Susan, said.

He became involved in the movement to change state laws regarding the use of marijuana for medical purposes because he knew what it meant to people who needed it, his sister said.

"He was very passionate about the cause and spent many years going to Columbus and Ann Arbor to march with groups that believed in the importance of changing the law," Ms. Asbury said.

However, his passion for changing marijuana laws was not without its legal hurdles.

In 1999, Mr. Asbury pleaded guilty and was given a one-year suspended jail sentence for attempted possession of marijuana after U.S. Customs officials intercepted a marijuana package from Sweden addressed to him.

"Somebody from Sweden who knew about his involvement in the movement to change marijuana laws in Ohio sent him a package and that is how he got into trouble," his sister explained. "He didn't even know the person who sent the package."

Born in Toledo, Mr. Asbury grew up in Oregon.

He graduated from Scott High in 1974 and held a number of jobs in Toledo before his accident in 1980, which left him unable to take on other jobs.

So he spent much of his time after the accident reading and teaching himself about laws concerning the use of medical marijuana, his sister said.

"He never felt sorry for himself," she said, "and that is when he started to get involved in a number of causes he believed in."

Having grown up a few blocks away from the shores of Lake Erie, he naturally opposed the expansion efforts of Envirosafe, his sister said, "because he worried that the company would contaminate the lake."

In 1996, he wrote then-Vice President Al Gore, asking him to take an active role in the movement to reform state and federal laws concerning medical marijuana, his sister said. "He was especially proud of that letter and the fact that Al Gore wrote him back," she said.

Three years later, Mr. Asbury was one of three residents who threatened to sue the city of Oregon in an effort to have the city replace its curb ramps, which did not meet federal standards. Oregon City Council not only agreed to change its curb ramps to meet federal standards, it paid $5,920 in legal fees for the three plaintiffs.

"Daniel strongly believed that he ought to live his life in pursuit of a cause he believed in," his sister said.

Surviving are his mother, Elizabeth Brandenburg; father, Clyde Asbury; sisters, Susan, Carol, Candace, Constance, and Libby Jane, and brothers, James and Michael.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. Sunday in the Eggleston Meinert Funeral Home, Oregon, where services will be at 11 a.m. Monday.

The family suggests tributes to the St. Francis Health Care Center in Green Springs, Ohio, or a charity of the donor's choice.



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