Montana lawsuit pertains to medical marijuana use while on probation

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011 at 9:42 am | More from The Colorado Independent

Medical marijuana, in virtually every state where it is legal, operates under a set of rules not applied to such drugs as Oxycontin and Percocet. You can get fired from your job if you test positive for marijuana regardless of your medical status. You may not be allowed to use or possess marijuana if you are on probation. You’ll pay taxes on your legal purchase of this legal medicine. In other words, most states seem to take a wink-wink approach to marijuana as medicine, implying that while it is legal, it really isn’t medicine and won’t be treated as such.

One of those caveats is being tested in Montana as a woman has gone to court to fight that state’s law against parolees using medical marijuana.

The woman, Hiedi Fields, is being represented by attorney Chris Lindsey. The judge in the case is James Reynolds.

Jim Gingery, director of the Montana Medical Growers Association, told The Colorado Independent that in Montana it is law that once someone has served their time and paid their penalty for any infraction of the law, that they are made whole again, with all the rights of any other citizen.

“This case is not so much about Hiedi as it about denying any patient his or her medicine because of a mistake they made in the past. When is this madness, ignorance and stupidity going to end?” he asked.

From The Helena Independent Record:

She’s asking for a court hearing on whether she can still be allowed to use the plant. Lindsey is representing another cardholder, Lief Erickson, in a similar case in Flathead County.

Lindsey acknowledges the direct language of SB 423 could be tough to overcome. But District Judge James Reynolds, in his June 30 order granting part of the preliminary injunction sought by the Montana Cannabis Industry Association against implementation of the law, said challenges by probationers to that ban should be made on a “case-by-case” basis. That’s where Lindsey is hoping the judge will look,

Lindsey also notes that Reynolds, in his order, said marijuana “is a lawful means of seeking one’s health” under the Montana Constitution’s guarantee of the right of residents to “seek their safety, health and happiness in all lawful ways.”

Lindsey says he understands that people on probation don’t have all the same rights as others, but that sick people who happen to be on probation shouldn’t face a blanket ban.

“Whether or not they have a medical need shouldn’t be based on their criminal history,” he said.

Fields told The Colorado Independent that her crime was using a credit card that didn’t belong to her, and that it happened more than ten years ago. She is still on probation, she said, because she is still paying off that debt.

Her medical condition, for which she wants to use marijuana, is a combination of carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues related to a former job in which she was charged with scanning upwards of 4000 sheets of paper a day in an office that was converting the state’s water rights files from paper to digital. Today, she publishes a medical marijuana magazine.

She said she dislikes opoids, is allergic to Percocet, and prefers marijuana to manage her pain. “Marijuana does help me. I really don’t want to be whacked out of my head, which those other drugs do. With marijuana, I had my life back,” she said.

Lindsey could not be reached for comment.

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