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Deaths Stun St. Louis Medical Marijuana Community

Two men actively involved in campaigning for medical cannabis in Missouri died in recent weeks, saddening St. Louis' tight-knit community of marijuana activists.

Gary Davey, former president of the Greater St. Louis chapter of NORML, died Sunday, May 9, of a heart attack. He was 48.

Rik Ebner, manager of art glass studio TNT Designs in the Delmar Loop, took his own life April 13. He was 39.

According to his obituary in the Post-Dispatch, Davey graduated from the University of Missouri, Rolla in 1983 with an industrial engineering degree and worked as a civil servant to the U.S. Army Media Distribution Division Center for 20 years.

"He really got a kick out of joining us at Schwagstocks and he and his wife Lisa even camped with us a couple times," Terri Zeman, co-director of St. Louis NORML, wrote in an e-mail to the group. "Gary used a wheelchair to get around and so travel to the Stocks and camping were a bit more of a challenge to Gary and Lisa than to most of us who worked the GSTLNORML booth. I will especially miss his incredibly dry, sharp as a tack, wit. His sense of humor was unparalleled."

Fred Raines, another member of the local NORML chapter, had this story to tell:
My most vivid recollection of Gary occurred when he told his story and fielded questions on the George Noory talk/call in radio show several years ago. Noory had always been accommodating to marijuana supporters and frequently had them on his program, but one strongly suspected that this was mostly a matter of bringing controversy and juice to his many listeners. I was sitting across the table from Noory as Gary, in simple, direct language related his moving story of how medical marijuana transformed his life from one of bed-ridden semi consciousness to an active, productive state so admired by his many friends. The transformation in Noory's face and in his conversation was palpable. That night he became a believer. It almost seemed, one could imagine, that a hush had come over the radio audience  And I can assure readers there were no more "marijuana is not medicine" calls that night". If only for that one episode will I always remember and admire Gary.

We will all miss the guy who made the most of the hand he was dealt.
Ebner's obit notes that he attended the Belleville Community College and graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois in 1999 with a B.A. in philosophy. He taught at the Community College in Carbondale while also working on his masters in philosophy.

Ebner suffered from debilitating chronic back pain and was a participant in the Cannabis Patient Network, organized locally by Mark Pedersen.

"The whole medical cannabis activity, working in this can be pretty sad," Pedersen says. "You see a lot of people fall. It's just the very nature of the conditions of all of us. We all know that this is our fate, particularly with the state of the laws in this land. It doesn't give us much hope."

Ebner's life was commemorated with a wake last Sunday night at the Shati Tavern in Soulard.

Visitation for Davey is Friday from 5-9 p.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester in Kirkwood.

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