Woman with terminal cancer jailed over medication in her system

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

A grandmother with terminal cancer is in the Sedgwick County Jail because of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system while she was driving.

But the THC was in her system because it is in a medication her pharmacist says she needs in order to eat while on chemotherapy.

Angela Kastner has colorectal cancer. KAKE News spoke with her Tuesday night, right before she reported to jail for a 48-hour sentence. She's in jail as a result of a DUI, although she had nothing to drink. 

"I had ... Marinol in my system that the doctors in Oklahoma gave me to fight cancer. I've been fighting cancer 5 years," Kastner said. 

Marinol is an FDA approved medication for cancer patients. It helps them keep down food. It's a synthetic form of THC, but it's legal.

According to her pharmacist, the amount of THC in her blood is not enough to make anyone high. The time Kastner will spend in jail will force her to miss a chemo session, which will force her to restart her whole regimen. Her doctor is not happy. 

"I miss my chemo tomorrow and I miss my doctors appointment tomorrow," said Kastner.

Colonel Brenda Dietzman with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says Kastner chose the date on which to begin her 48-hour sentence and the jail has to accommodate that.

"We routinely, on a daily basis, take inmates to dialysis and other medical procedures and appointments," Dietzman said. "We take the care of our inmates very seriously."

She could not speak to why Kastner did not take the option of being taken for chemo, referring calls to the city courts. However, she did say that approximately $6 million is spent each year for inmate medical expenses, which is about three times the annual cost of the jail's food. 

Kastner said she is coming forward with her story so other cancer patients won't have to experience the same legal treatment.  

"I feel sorry for the next cancer patient who has to go through anything I have had to go through. They shouldn't have to do this at the end of their life."

Kastner did plead no contest to the DUI charge. In a document obtained by KAKE News, her doctor says that if chemotherapy does not work then she will need hospice care. 

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