Medical cannabis patients will be glad to know that they are, by law, allowed access to medicinal marijuana even if incarcerated. In what could be a precedent-setting case, a district judge in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ruled that the Metropolitan Detention Center in Bernalillo County must allow inmates with qualifying conditions access to medicinal marijuana. The ruling has been lauded by advocates for the trickle-down effects it could have for jails and prisons.
Back in 2019, Joe Montano, an Albuquerque resident, was convicted on a charge of drunken driving and sentenced to 90 days’ house arrest. Having successfully undergone a mental health program overseen by the court, he was allowed to serve his sentence at home on the condition that he didn’t use any illicit drugs. However, correctional officers soon discovered cannabis in his possession.
Although the state of New Mexico has allowed the use of medical cannabis since 2007, it is still illegal at the federal level, and that’s where the main issue arose. Lawyers representing Bernalillo County argued that because of marijuana’s illegal status at the federal level, Montaño violated the terms of his house arrest. Consequently, he spent more than 30 days in jail. According to Sen. Jacob Candelaria, who represented him in court, those days in jail almost lost him a commercial refrigeration repair business he had started.
District Court Judge Lucy Solimon sided with Montaño, ruling that medical cannabis patients cannot be punished for using medical cannabis while in jail or prison. She said that the state’s medical cannabis law offers broad protections to registered patients and that these protections extend to individuals being held in jails or prisons. In her final ruling, she instructed the correctional facility to comply with the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, adding that the state should not penalize people in police custody or being held by the Metropolitan Detention Center, “including those in the Community Custody Program.”
This is in line with an amendment to New Mexico’s medical marijuana law approved in 2020, which states that anyone who is serving probation, in custody, under the state’s supervision, or part of a local government trial “community supervision program” should not be penalized under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. It is still unclear whether correctional facilities across the state will adopt the policy or if they will appeal the precedent-setting ruling.
Duke Rodriguez, CEO of New Mexico-based medical marijuana company Ultra Health, has lauded Solimon’s ruling as a victory for medical cannabis patients in the state and across the country.
Many marijuana companies around the country are thriving. For instance, Gage Cannabis Co. is doing well in the Michigan marijuana space. This company is planning to go public in the first quarter of 2021 on one of the Canadian exchanges.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Gage Cannabis Co. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/GAGE
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