A town of Avon man who pleaded guilty to growing marijuana said he did it to replace the OxyContin and morphine he was prescribed after traumatic injuries.
Robert G. Christianson, 57, told a Rock County Court judge Tuesday that he crushed his left heel in 1999 and was prescribed opioid painkillers.
Then he broke his neck in 2004, and in 2013, he crushed his right heel and two vertebrae, he said.
He was on maximum doses of the opioids for 10 years, he said, “And I would rather be on the marijuana than be on that damned pain medicine.”
His wife also used the marijuana after getting cancer in 2013. She also didn’t like the pain meds, he said.
“I know it wasn’t right. It wasn’t legal,” he said.
“I understand all that. I can be empathetic,” Judge John Wood said. “It still doesn’t justify the behavior. It’s still illegal.”
Deputies raided Christianson’s home at 14001 W. Highway 81, Brodhead, in October 2018 and reported finding about 10 pounds of marijuana and evidence of a basement grow room, according to the criminal complaint.
Christianson had only one prior conviction, for marijuana possession in 1989, Assistant District Attorney Mary Bricco said.
Christianson pleaded guilty Wednesday to manufacturing THC and a second-offense intoxicated driving charge. He was sentenced to four years of probation with six months in jail, a 16-month driver license revocation and ignition interlock device requirement, and a $400 fine and court costs.
Wood also ordered drug/alcohol treatment. The judge allowed for work release, and Christianson will apply to serve his jail time at home on a monitoring bracelet.
Charges of possession with intent to deliver THC and running a drug house were dismissed.
Deputies found 17 firearms in the house, and Christianson is now required to get rid of them because of the felony conviction. They will go to a relative, defense attorney Jack Hoag said.
Christianson said after the hearing that he was upset with the plea agreement, a take-it-or-leave-it offer he had to accept that day or it would be taken off the table.
Christianson said he stopped using pain pills in 2014 and has used only marijuana to deal with the pain since.
The marijuana also helped him deal with opioid withdrawal symptoms, he said.
“Them pills were killing me,” he said. “I didn’t like the way they make me feel. Then you get dependent, and if you didn’t have them, you got sick,” he said.
According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana appears to help most with muscle spasms, chronic pain and nausea.
“I hope you find a way to deal with all those health issues in a legal fashion,” Wood said to Christianson.
Christianson said he is no longer using marijuana.