(KUTV) A devout Mormon mom turned herself in to the Weber County Sheriff's office today on drug charges. She arrived with her husband and two kids in tow, for her formal booking photo.
Enedina Stanger is 27 years old and until now did not have a criminal history. She was charged with felony child endangerment on Oc. 1 after a passerby called police saying they could smell pot in Stanger's minivan in a Weber County Wal-Mart parking lot. Stanger was sitting in her car with her daughter while her husband and second child ran in to grab milk. Stanger says she was not feeling well and stayed in the car, her daughter decided to sit with her -- not wanting her mom to be alone.
The family headed out together because a realtor was showing its home to potential buyers. Stanger grabbed her stash of marijuana on the way out of the house, not wanting anyone to find it and knowing she would need it while gone.
The family made another stop before Police showed up at Wal-Mart where Dad and the two kids left Enedina alone in the van. In pain, Enedina used her time alone to smoke a joint and ease the pain she says she was having as her air passage was partially blocked by movement of her spine.
Stanger was diagnosed with Ehlers -Danlos syndrome several years ago. The genetic syndrome is rare and causes a breakdown of connective tissues allowing for her bones to become dislocated with everyday movement. The movement of her bones causes pain when her muscles overcompensate to hold her skeleton in place.
Stanger's husband Michael said they have been to every kind of doctor here in Utah, Mexico -- conventional and holistic. In the end, the only thing they have found to help with the pain in marijuana. Not an oil, or medical form, but plain old marijuana, smoked the old fashioned way.
Stanger who is bound to a wheelchair, rolled into the Weber County jail this morning, with her husband and kids by her side. She says she "totally understood it was illegal" to smoke the marijuana in Utah "but had to risk it to be alive."
The Stanger family wanted cameras to be at the jail as they arrived for her formal booking. They are ready and willing to fight for legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes in Utah.
Stanger says she has "been a guinea pig in the medical community for too long" saying that for the first couple years of her diagnosis she was "lying in bed" and missed the first year of her daughter's life.
The young mother says she has taken the opiates her doctors have given her and "could not recognize" her daughters "if they were in front of me calling my name because I was so drugged up."
The Stangers who are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, say they were praying for what to do next when they were led to the possibility of marijuana a couple years ago. A friend helped them get the pot and Enedina says "it was a miracle," adding that she had "been praying for something that could help."
Smoking marijuana, she said, has literally saved her life.
"I don't know how it works. I don't know why it works, but I know it does work and I know it does not make me high."
Stanger's felony charge of child endangerment was dropped to a misdemeanor. She still faces six months of probation and has been assigned to court-ordered parenting classes. The Stangers will have to return to Utah for the classes, but in the meantime, have been forced to move to Colorado where marijuana is legal.
Michael Stanger says the sudden move has been hard on their daughters who "cry about wanting to go to their preschool and going to Sunbeams at church." Both Michael and Enedina have family in Utah and desperately want to move back, but know they can't as long as she is using marijuana to treat her symptoms.
The Stanger's children were also just diagnosed with the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome making today's stop at the jail even more important to Michael and Enedina. Fighting for the legalization of medicinal marijuana in Utah is now a family affair.
"If I have to go to jail or go to prison to make sure my daughters have a new form of medicine, and a way they can survive and not be hurt, and not have medicine that will ruin their life, I will do anything I can."
Enedina is ready to fight and return back to Utah for the upcoming legislative session.
There are currently two bills set to go before the legislature in the upcoming session dealing with medical marijuana. One would allow for cannabis oil, the other pushes for the legalization of all forms of medical marijuana. The Stangers' will push for the latter hoping to help themselves and countless other families they say could be helped by a miracle cure that does not carry the harsh side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.