Supco Sides with Man in Medical Marijuana Case

Supco Sides with Man in Medical Marijuana Case
Posted by CN Staff on October 30, 2008 at 07:31:25 PT
By Katie Oyan
Source: Montana Standard
Helena, MT -- The director of a statewide medical marijuana advocacy group is calling a Wednesday decision by the Montana Supreme Court a "big victory" for the state's patients and voters.In a 6-1 ruling, the high court said District Judge Laurie McKinnon overstepped her authority with two sentencing conditions she placed on Timothy Nelson of Conrad.
Nelson was charged in May 2006 after authorities searched his house and found evidence of a marijuana growing operation. He suffers from a degenerative disc disorder and was later accepted into Montana's medical marijuana program.In February 2007, Nelson pleaded no contest under a plea agreement to criminal possession or manufacture of dangerous drugs.During sentencing, McKinnon expressed concerns about Nelson's marijuana use and the fact that he was raising two children. She eventually gave him a three-year deferred sentence subject to 20 conditions.Nelson filed an appeal challenging two of those conditions: an order than he not possess marijuana except in prescription pill form, and an order that he comply with all state and federal laws. He was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Montana and the advocacy and support group Patients and Families United.Nelson argued that McKinnon ignored the intent of the Montana Medical Marijuana Act and treated his medical marijuana use like it was illegal. He said the sentencing conditions unduly restricted his use of marijuana and needlessly required him to suffer physical pain.The Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters in November 2004, allows patients to use marijuana if they suffer from diseases like cancer, glaucoma and HIV, or if they have chronic pain.Nelson also argued McKinnon exceeded her authority in requiring him to obey all federal laws, since federal law prohibits marijuana possession and allows no exceptions for medical marijuana use.Attorneys for the state said Nelson didn't become a participant in Montana's medical marijuana program until after his arrest, and his history suggested he may be addicted to the drug. They said Nelson admitted he had used marijuana illegally for years and sought protection under the Medical Marijuana Act only "after he got caught." The Supreme Court sided with Nelson, reversing the two sentencing conditions and remanding the case for further proceedings. Justice Jim Rice dissented.The high court said state law allows qualifying patients to possess up to six marijuana plants and one ounce of "usable" marijuana."In limiting Nelson to the ingestion of marijuana in pill form, and requiring him to have a physician's prescription to do so, the District Court ignored the clear intent of the voters of Montana that a qualifying patient with a valid registry identification card be lawfully entitled to grow and consumer marijuana in legal amounts," the Supreme Court said.Tom Daubert of Helena, director of Patients and Families United, said the ruling was the high court's first in a medical marijuana case."We're very pleased," Daubert said. "We think this decision is a big victory not only for the state's suffering patients, but also for voters, because it affirms the voters' decision." The ruling also affirms three fundamental points, Daubert said.The first is that for participants in Montana's medical marijuana program, "marijuana is a legal medicine that should be treated no differently than ordinary prescription drugs," he said. The second is that the prescription-pill form of marijuana is not the same as regular marijuana.And the third important point the ruling makes "is that Montana has every right, as do other states, to adopt its own policy on this issue," Daubert said.Betsy Griffing, legal director for the Montana ACLU, also lauded the ruling, saying it recognizes the "full force and effect of the Montana Medical Marijuana Act." Source: Montana Standard (Butte, MT)Author: Katie OyanPublished: October 30, 2008Copyright: 2008 Montana StandardContact: editor mtstandard.comWebsite: NORML Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on October 30, 2008 at 07:51:07 PT
Oops I mean
The ruling is great.It sucks that real addicts are forced to wait for rehab beds they desperately want while the government forces rehab beds on people who don't want them or need them just because the government has made decided those persons are addicts.The government calls people addicts without following the kind of guidelines that drinkers are supposed to follow when they determine whether their daily alcohol use constitutes social drinking or addiction.
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on October 30, 2008 at 07:41:56 PT
THis makes me gag
They're so worried about him being addicted to marijuana.I know in California there's always alcoholics living out on the street somewhere just waiting a rehab bed to open up. I'll bet they have them in Montana too.The government wastes rehab beds on people who don't need them while people who really desperately need them have to wait their turn.
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