Medical marijuana is on its way to the Granite State, but for at least one local woman, it literally may not get there fast enough.
Linda Horan suffers from terminal cancer and could die at any time. Now her lawyer says he believes she is eligible to get medicinal cannabis from dispensaries in Maine, even though MMJ is not yet available on the retail market in her home state. If she succeeds, it would mark the first time a state has allowed a patient to get a head start by buying from a neighboring state.
Linda Horan, who lives in Concord, N.H., has applied for a medical cannabis ID card before the first dispensaries open. Her lawyer, Paul Twomey, filed court papers Nov. 19 outlining her case.
Horan has asked a judge to force health authorities to issue her a card promptly so she can use it to buy medical marijuana in Maine. That state allows reciprocity arrangements, meaning some patients from out of state may buy and use medicinal cannabis there.
Lawyers for the state told the court Horan’s request would undercut the state’s program and its need to limit the drug’s distribution. They say Horan should have to wait like everyone else.
Horan would be covered under new MMJ law
But that is a luxury she may not have. After a hearing earlier in November, she said she could well be dead by the time the first dispensaries open in New Hampshire next year. Horan, a retired telephone worker and labor activist, suffers from terminal cancer, a condition that will be covered by MMJ once it takes effect.
The case was heard by Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara, but he didn’t say during the hearing whether he would rule in Horan’s favor. The hearing was an opportunity for lawyers on both sides to submit arguments and other paperwork.
Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Francis Fredericks said Horan is misrepresenting Maine’s reciprocity law. Maine, Fredericks said, only allows out-of-state students and vacationing tourists to use medical marijuana, not people who cross the state line only to buy or consume the drug. Federal law prohibits any interstate shipment of cannabis, so presumably Horan would be forced to use her medication in Maine.
Fredericks also noted that Granite State law doesn’t allow patients to get their marijuana from any source other than a state-licensed alternative treatment center (ATC).
“This system of checks and balances involving the distribution of a controlled substance to New Hampshire patients is deliberate and, until an ATC is operational, it is incomplete,” Fredericks wrote in court filings for the state.
Maine dispensary owners have shown support
At least two dispensary owners from Maine signed affidavits for Twomey testifying that they would provide Horan with cannabis once she has a New Hampshire ID card. Twomey told the court Horan has invitations from several Maine residents, including a state lawmaker who helped pass medical cannabis six years ago.
Lawmakers who helped enact medical marijuana in New Hampshire, meanwhile, said they were frustrated with the attempts to block Horan from getting her medicine. State Rep. Renny Kushing said health authorities were wasting time and money when they could be helping patients.
“People should have been going out of their way to treat her and every other patient with dignity and compassion rather than throwing up barriers,” Cushing said. “Virtually every lawmaker is shaking their heads in disbelief.”