We all need to take a moment and remember the sacrifices others have made in the fight for medical cannabis.... You will not be forgotten...someone should name a strain after this hero

DIANA, Samuel Dean
6-8-1949 - 2-16-2011

Samuel Dean Diana was born in Spokane to Carl and Oliven M. Diana. He went to St. Charles, Glover, Shadle and graduated from North Central in 1967. He attended Spokane Falls and Radio Broadcast School for short periods.
Sam was formally diagnosed with M.S. in 1969, but was drafted into the Marines anyway. He came home a month later with his first major exacerbation of M.S., which was obvious by its symptoms ever after.
Sam was well known as a fighter in high school, and thereafter, as an inspiring and courageous fighter of his M.S. Sam had difficult moments when his words could hurt, but he was mostly a gregarious person, and an inspiration to many, with a heart and soul full of peace, love and rock and roll.
In 1981 Sam became famous as the first person to establish "Medical Necessity" for his medical use of marijuana for his M.S. in the State and U.S. His battle has helped multiple medical marijuana patients, and has helped change society's attitudes.
More notable was Sam's extraordinary courage, persistence and perseverance in his battle with M.S. He had a love of life, a love of people and nature, and great appreciation for the kindness and assistance of others. Despite occasional harsh words fueled by pain and frustration over his ever declining physical ability, Sam usually was silent about his pain, and seldom complained unless things were really bad. In truth, Sam really was a big softie.
Sam broke a leg when bucked from his wheelchair on February 13. His health spiraled, and after his last valiant battle, he passed away in the presence of his family.
Sam was one of a kind and will be truly missed!
Sam was preceded in death, by his parents and brother Tony. He is survived by his brothers George and Carl J. Diana, his sister Mary Diana Harris, numerous nieces and nephews, a grandniece and grand nephew, two uncles and an aunt.
An informal memorial service shall be held for Sam on Saturday, March 5, 2011, at 2:00 p.m., at the Sunset Memorial Chapel at Fairmont Memorial Park, 5200 W. Wellesley, Spokane. Sam's ashes will be buried at Spokane Memorial Gardens at a later date.
The Diana family extends its sincere appreciation to Sam's many friends and caregivers, whose efforts and company made Sam's long survival possible, and to the entire Sacred Heart family for its sensitive care without regard to Sam's resources.
Instead of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the M.S. Society in Sam's name.


Sams Story:
He was a football player and wrestler at Shadle Park High in Spokane, Washington in the early 1960s. By his senior year, the hard-fisted party animal had contracted multiple sclerosis. His malady went undiagnosed, even after paralysis claimed one half of his body. Sam did not know he had MS, nor did anyone else. Suddenly and mysteriously, he recovered.

Months into the first remission, Sam had yet to learn the name of his medical condition. His medical history didn't stop the Marine Corps from drafting Sam Diana in 1969. After 31 days of extreme physical exertion in boot camp, Sam, the once-tough-guy, wrestler, football player and Marine-in-training, couldn't walk, keep his balance, talk without a noticeable slur, eat more than a bird, or control his bowels.

The Marine Corps mustered him out and sent him home. What's a guy to do?

What Sam did was smoke some marijuana at a beer-drinking party with friends. "I saw God," said Sam during our recent interview. "Smoking it made me feel better instantly . . ."

If 'God saw Sam', the heavenly prescription for relief from severe 'spasticity' must have been marijuana. Smoking marijuana in Spokane in 1970 was a crime as it is now, but 20 years ago Sam was the only one convinced that it was helping him make it through each day.

"My friends, family and medical professionals eventually believed me," Sam explained, "but not without a long fight with some of them."

Medical benefits of marijuana are scientific fact at present, and a recommended course of treatment for the sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis. That was a road that Sam would help pave, but first, to appease loved ones and doctors, Sam tried other treatments for relief. In 1970 he was prescribed B-12 vitamins and cortisone, "with understanding that the vitamins would help the corroding myelin and the cortisone would decrease the numbness," said Sam. "The treatment proved ineffective."

Thorazine was another ineffective medication prescribed to Sam, relaxing his muscles to the point of deterioration, Four years later, Dantrolene a promising drug, left his muscle condition worse.

In early 1978 a Lioresal debilitated his physical condition further. During this decade of futile medical trials, Sam kept puffing on pot.

"I have found that under the influence of marijuana, not only are my physical functions improved, but also, I am less prone to imbibe in more damaging substances such as alcohol," Sam stated in a legal affidavit. Did I say 'legal'? Yes, Sam was arrested and tried for possession of a controlled substance in the Superior Court of the State of Washington on May 23, 1977.

Samuel Dean Diana, victim of Multiple Sclerosis, was convicted of using marijuana, but in a landmark reversal, the Washington State Court of Appeals remanded Sam's case back to Spokane for retrial. On March 4, 1981 Sam was acquitted by Spokane Judge John Lally who accepted a defense of 'medical necessity', and Sam Diana, then 32, became the first MS victim in the United States to legally earn the right to smoke 'pot' to alleviate symptoms of his disease. Sam's brother, Spokane attorney George Diana, had coordinated the country's greatest victory for medical marijuana seen yet.

Case closed, right? Just grow your 'pot' and smoke it, okay Sam? Acquitted, correct? A Superior Court Judge said Sam has a legitimate need to smoke marijuana to alleviate his MS symptoms. End of story. Until December 1997.

Led by DEA Agent Gary Landers, federal and local police swooped down on Sam in December 1997 - illegally entering his rural house on a concocted ruse, Sam was charged with manufacture and possession of marijuana. "I showed them the acquittal papers (from 1981), and they ignored that. I could tell they were on a 'fantasy trip' when I joked that a clicking pressure-switch for the (well pump) was a ticking bomb. They freaked," said Sam. "When I tried to drive my cart to the bathroom, one agent said, 'I'll draw on you'. I told him, 'Go ahead, I gotta pee anyway'."

In January 1998 Sam Diana, along with several codefendants, were brought into Spokane's U.S. District Court. If convicted of charges against him, he could go to prison for 120 years and be fined $4.5 million.

Throughout court hearings Sam sat defiantly in his electric go-cart as his 'medical necessity' defense for growing and using marijuana was litigated on a criminal level once again. For 18 years Sam could smoke pot legally; why would anyone now threaten this stricken man with 120 years behind bars?

The government's case had problems. A bankrolled, veteran informant (Mike) died of an overdose before proceedings started, and Sam's MS-friends wouldn't bend to government pressure to "squeal" on a friend. So did Sam win? Sam avoided prison, but the government won and took cash, a coin collection and the equipment it took to grow his medicine. Later the government would pay Sam for the 'grow lights' broken by clumsy police agents. The government made no serious attempt to seize Sam's real property, but he only recently completed six months home-detention. He smoked marijuana for anxiety-relief and stayed home-as usual.

What was it all about? Much ado about nothing it seems - just more wasted taxpayer dollars in the mindless drug war and another citizen robbed by the government. It was more unwanted anxiety for a struggling MS patient. Yet more importantly, the government's drug war policies were again proved inhumane and irrational by a defiant, wheelchair-bound, criminal defendant named Sam Diana who told the Court, "Go ahead. Put me in jail and see what good it does you!"

an excerpt from his local paper:

"Life could be tough for a Catholic kid in the 1950s. So Sam Diana got tougher.

George Diana remembers the taunts he and his brother would get walking home from school in their uniforms: “‘Cat-licker! Cat-licker! Cat-licker!’” George recalled recently. “Other kids wouldn’t play with us and stuff.”

He also remembers a young Sam fighting back against three bigger kids at a school carnival – beating up all three. It wasn’t the last time Sam Diana got into a fight.

He fought other kids, he fought teachers, and he fought rules – running away from home, getting kicked out of school, protesting the Vietnam War. He fought multiple sclerosis. When he was arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana – something he did recreationally before noticing it helped control his tremors, nausea and other symptoms – he fought the law.

And the law didn’t win. In 1981, Sam Diana became the first MS patient in the country to be granted the “medical necessity” of using marijuana, which he did until he died Feb. 26 at age 62.

“He was a hell of a guy,” said George Diana, a longtime Spokane attorney like their father, Carl. “He was the toughest kid in high school. He was the toughest kid fighting a stupid disease. He was the toughest kid fighting the marijuana laws.”

Sam’s family traces his illness to his childhood, when they believe he was exposed to Hanford radiation. As a high school student, he had occasional episodes when he couldn’t get out of bed. He was formally diagnosed with MS in 1969, which didn’t stop the Marines from drafting him later that year. A month later, he came home with what George calls a “major exacerbation” of his disease.

From there, the cruel inevitability of MS – which attacks the central nervous system – began to take its gradual toll, affecting his walking and physical movements more and more. Sam began to feel that the marijuana he was smoking for purely nonmedical reasons was doing him some good. George said he, his parents and three brothers and sisters didn’t buy it. At first.

Like Sam, George grew up tough, but he used that more for football than fisticuffs. Unlike Sam, he did well in school, going on to Harvard and Gonzaga Law School. The year George graduated from law school, 1977, Sam was arrested after police came to his home on a domestic dispute. His wife at the time said he’d hit her; in court later, Sam acknowledged things had gotten out of hand and he was glad she called the police.

When they arrived, they found pot under his couch. At trial, Sam argued that he smoked it for his MS, but the judge wasn’t buying it. Sam was convicted of a felony drug charge. He took it to the Court of Appeals, which ruled in 1979 that the trial judge erred in not allowing Sam to make the case for “medical necessity.”

George, meanwhile, was a young lawyer and he began helping on the case. They enlisted the help of a local doctor, Walter Balek Jr., who gave Sam a battery of neurological tests while he was sober. Then Sam and George left for a bit, Sam smoked a couple of joints, and they returned – where Sam proceeded to show improvement on more than half the tests, George said.

Balek testified at the second trial in Spokane County Superior Court, as did other MS patients who claimed the drug had helped them – though they were hidden behind a sheet for fear of prosecution. On March 4, 1981, Sam was found not guilty.

Sam’s victory was a landmark, but it didn’t usher in any overnight changes. All you have to do is take a peek at our currently insane legal framework on the matter to see that. It allowed the possibility of a legal defense against a possession charge, but didn’t provide a framework for anyone to get and use the drug.

After the ruling, Sam struggled with the inevitable decline of his motor skills. He began using canes and walkers in the 1980s, and wheelchairs in the 1990s. A guy with a counter-cultural, anti-authoritarian style, he moved into a house outside of Cheney, where he had a lot of guests, lived with a couple of “helpers,” and grew marijuana – which continued to get him in trouble, despite the ruling.

Federal agents raided his home in 1998, finding more than 100 plants, and he wound up facing charges of growing and selling marijuana. He pleaded guilty in a deal in which most charges were dropped, but he argued that he didn’t believe he was violating the law. About nine years later, George said, a deputy seized Diana’s plants, but no charges were filed.

Diana’s last fight started on Feb. 13, when he was thrown from his wheelchair at home. He landed hard, breaking his left femur in several places, though he initially refused to have it checked – the toughest guy said he was OK.

It was a full day later when a nurse insisted that he seek medical attention, George said. By then, his blood pressure and heart rate were up, the leg was swollen, and other medical problems had set in.

Sam spent the next 12 days at Sacred Heart. “Finally his kidneys failed on the 25th and we lost him on the 26th,” George said.

Sam credited marijuana with helping him battle MS, and George doesn’t disagree. But he thinks there was a more important factor.

“He lasted 42 years with this miserable disease and it was because he was bull-headed,” George said. “He was tough.”