Frank Dennis Peters, South Carolina Man, Charged With Drug Trafficking For Growing Marijuana For Sick Wife

06/14/2013 04:21 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2013
Beaufort County Sheriff's Office

A South Carolina man could face years in prison for drug trafficking after investigators found 137 marijuana plants growing in his backyard last month. The catch? He says he was growing the plants for his ailing wife.

"I have a moral obligation to make my wife as comfortable as possible," Frank Dennis Peters, 66, told the Beaufort Gazette.

The sole caregiver for his wife of 40 years, Peters said marijuana helped her cope with her many medical issues, including fibromyalgia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the Gazette reported. The drug helped her sleep and increased her appetite, he told the paper.

Investigators came to Peters' home on May 30 after receiving a tip from neighbors that marijuana was growing on the property, the Gazette reported. Peters, who said his neighbors knew about the plants and weren't bothered by their presence, told the Gazette he believed a neighbor's guest alerted the police. Peters confirmed the plants were marijuana, and told authorities they were used for personal and medicinal uses. Though medicinal marijuana is legal in South Carolina, it has to be purchased through the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control -- something no one has done since the law was passed in 1980.

Peters was allowed time to make arrangements for his wife, who reportedly can't be left alone for long due to her medical treatments. He turned himself over to authorities on June 11 and was released on his own recognizance the same day.

Outside of the drug and crime element, Peters is facing a reality many post 50s are experiencing -- providing regular care for a family member. More than 65 million people act as caregivers to chronically ill, disabled or aged loved ones per year, according to the Caregiver Action Network. According to a 2012 study, 46 percent of family caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks for care recipients with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions.

There are other post 50s facing harsh sentences for marijuana, which more Americans are in support of legalizing (baby boomers are increasingly pro marijuana legalization as well). LifeForPot.org compiled a list of prisoners sentenced to life for marijuana crimes; many on the list are over 50.

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