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Medical marijuana probation ban sentences patients to problems, attorney says

man smoking marijuana from a bong on flickr cropped-thumb-140x117.jpg
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Last week, we told you about a court ruling that bans medical marijuana patients from using cannabis while on probation.

The decision was praised in a Denver Post editorial, but George Yingling, the attorney who represented Leonard Charles Watkins, the man at the center of the case, believes it was the wrong call.

Thumbnail image for that carol chambers photo.jpg
Carol Chambers.
As we've reported, Watkins wound up on probation as the result of a 2005 conviction involving sexual assault on a child. Nonetheless, a judge had sanctioned his use of MMJ, much to the chagrin of 18th Judicial District DA Carol Chambers. In an e-mail statement to 9News, Chambers wrote, "Does anyone think it's a good idea to allow a convicted sex offender to get high? People on probation have admitted to violating the law. There are different public safety concerns and different laws that apply to them than apply to the rest of the community." No surprse, then, that Chambers's office subsequently challenged the decision to allow medical cannabis use.

Before the Colorado Court of Appeals, Watkins argued that Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana in Colorado, "is paramount and necessarily prevails" over probation rules that forbid him from using or possessing "any narcotic, dangerous or abusable substance without a prescription," according to the ruling on view below. The judges were not persuaded, however. Here's a key excerpt from their decision:

The Amendment provides that it shall be an exception from the state's criminal laws for any patient in lawful possession of a "registry identification card" to use marijuana for medical purposes.... Under the Amendment, however, a physician does not prescribe marijuana, but may only provide "written documentation" stating that the patient has a debilitating medical condition and might benefit from the medical use of marijuana... Therefore, defendant's physician's certification does not constitute a "written lawful prescription" as required by the terms of his probation.

Just as important is this passage, which refers to a ruling against Jason Beinor, a medical marijuana patient who lost his street-sweeping job after failing a random drug test.

As a division of this court recognized in Beinor, the Amendment created a defense to criminal prosecution and is not a "grant to medical marijuana users of an unlimited constitutional right to use the drug in any place or any manner."

By the way, marijuana activist Kathleen Chippi, who encouraged Beinor to appeal the judgment against him, tells us that the Colorado Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will weigh in on the matter.

As for attorney Yingling, he's frustrated by the verdict in the Watkins case. Yingling is not a specialist in marijuana law, nor is he a personal fan of weed. "I've got a medical condition where I could get a medical marijuana card," he says. "But I don't like the drug. I don't want to be around it." Moreover, he concedes that "before I started doing research, I didn't know squat about medical marijuana. I was a blank slate." Before long, though, he became convinced that some people, including his client, benefit tremendously from MMJ use. And he feels that forcing Watkins to use heavy narcotics rather than pot to treat his condition is counter-intuitive.

Page down to read more of Yingling's views and the Watkins ruling.


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18 comments
elastigirl
elastigirl

My son is not well and has been tested for multiple things.  He just went to the lab again today.  He has several serious sports injuries, but also another underlying problem, possibly life threatening.  The only medication that helps him, especially with his nausea and vomiting is medical marijuana (he has his card).  I was raised ultra conservative, never drank, smoked or chewed (disgusting).  At first, I was totally opposed at the thought of him using marijuana even for medical purposes, but after seeing him using the alternative (oxycodone, and sometimes valium for anxiety), I was extremely grateful for the option of medical marijuana.  He does not use it to get high.  Now he is facing a misdemeanor probation (non drug or alcohol related), but is in between a rock and a hard place knowing he can't use the medical marijuana.  I am in total shock, literally when I try to comprehend how our courts allow people to use prescribed narcotics vs. marijuana.  The narcotics nearly killed him and if anybody reads the news or uses the internet, they will see hundreds and thousands of narcotic related deaths per year.  What is wrong with our country? Why are the pharmaceutical companies running it and why do our judges, DA's and Supreme Court keep their head in the sand?  How many more young adults or people of any age have to die before they will do something?  Who has ever died from using medical marijuana, somebody, please tell me?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Perhaps if he offered to dust his pot with Depo-Provera ...

encephalon7
encephalon7

For about a year now, I've substituted drinking two glasses of wine at night with smoking a small bowl of cannabis. This is going to sound utterly ridiculous to those of you who do not partake, but I've noticed a complete change in my attitude and creativity when I'm not "stoned". I feel less angry now, things seem to just roll of my shoulders. I'm not shrugging off my responsibilities by any means, but I feel... happier. I've also noticed how creatively intelligent I feel at school (again I do not attend my classes inebriated). I seem to understand subjects with a higher level of critical thinking. My grades reflect this. Anyone else experiencing these therapeutic effects?

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

It is NOT about getting "high." THIS IS MEDICINE. They still think that this is a joke. We need to change their minds through compassion. Would they deny a diabetic insulin???

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Colorado needs to lose a lot of nasty fascists in the courts, legislature, and local government -- overnight.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Would you deny an Alcoholic alcohol?

Would you deny a Junkie heroin?

Michelle LaMay
Michelle LaMay

Help Willie Nelson's Rocky Mountain TeaPOT Party "Kick the Bums Out?" We'll publish who's for us or agin' us. All Colorado judges, sheriffs, and DAs will have an opportunity to weigh in before the November election. Educate the voters all over the state. Peeps can call 303-886-7998 to volunteer for this project.

highmesa
highmesa

Kathleen Chippi for GovernorLaura Kriho for Sheriff

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

That's a frightening thought. Thanks for the post, Tesla.

Tesla
Tesla

And Michael Roberts for editor of the Denver Post.

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