Medical Marijuana

Drug Addict, Patient, Whatever

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Last April, Rose Johnson, a 53-year-old resident of Atwater, California, went to the local DMV office to renew her driver's license. A DMV agent noticed that Johnson was moving slowly, due to neck and back injuries caused by a 1990 car crash, and recommended that the department re-examine her license. During this process, the DMV learned that Johnson uses marijuana to relieve her neck and back pain, as she is permitted to do under state law. Although Johnson has a spotless driving record and never drives under the influence of marijuana, using the drug only at night, the DMV decided she was "incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle because of [an] addiction to, or habitual use of, [a] drug."

This week Americans for Safe Access (ASA) sued the DMV on Johnson's behalf, arguing that the department's decision to revoke her driver's license "based solely on her status as a qualified medical marijuana patient under California law" constitutes an abuse of discretion that violates the Compassionate Use Act (which recognizes marijuana as a medicine) and Johnson's constitutional right to direct the course of her medical treatment. Although a DMV spoksman told the San Francisco Chronicle the department does not have a blanket policy of taking away the licenses of medical marijuana users, instead treating cannabis as it would a prescription drug that could cause impairment, ASA says it knows of similar cases in several other counties. "The DMV cannot simply disregard California's medical marijuana law," says ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who is representing Johnson in her claim against the DMV. "When the voters of California enacted the Compassionate Use Act, they never intended to authorize the DMV to strip medical marijuana patients of their driver's licenses."

The text of the suit is available here (PDF).

[via The Drug War Chronicle]

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  1. First they came for the gay marriages, next they’re coming for the medical marijuana.

  2. Wait a minute…so if I drink beer every night, the DMV can take my license away? Even if my BAC is 0.00 whenever I actually drive?

  3. Drugs are bad, mm’kay?

  4. Such actions by the state are wrong. However, if the federal government were to send heavily armed SWAT teams into Ms. Johnson’s home to abduct her and send her back to Cuba to live with Elian Gonzalez’ dad, that would be okay.

  5. However, if the federal government were to send heavily armed SWAT teams into Ms. Johnson’s home to abduct her and send her back to Cuba to live with Elian Gonzalez’ dad, that would be okay.

    Obvious kidnapper that she be.

  6. First they came for the cosmetically improper firearms, then the gay marriages, next they’re coming for the medical marijuana.

    Fixed that for you.

  7. Such actions by the state are wrong. However, if the federal government were to send heavily armed SWAT teams into Ms. Johnson’s home to abduct her and send her back to Cuba to live with Elian Gonzalez’ dad, that would be okay.

    She kidnapped that dope and they knew she would violently resist!

  8. That weed wasn’t old enough to consent to being smoked, and it should have been placed with it’s father plant anyway!

  9. Wait. Are you saying that authorities are acting outside the “spirit” of the law? For shame! That never happens!

    She probably smokes it in her apartment too. Tack on the charge for that!

  10. “First they came for the cosmetically improper firearms…”

    Were they pink with polkadots or something?

  11. Wait a minute…so if I drink beer every night, the DMV can take my license away? Even if my BAC is 0.00 whenever I actually drive?

    Not if you get the ignition interlock

    >>About 230 Pennsylvania drivers lost their licenses last year after doctors reported their drug or alcohol addiction, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said.

  12. Seriously, what percentage of folks prescribed Valium, Vicodin, etc. are denied license renewal? How about users of over the counter antihistamines that come with a warning about operating heavy machinery?

    The DMV needs a to write a memo* and end this nonsense.

    * You’ll note I don’t call for a money wasting training program. Some things are just that fuckin’ simple.

  13. With its universal health care access, I’m sure Cuba would have Rose Johnson cured in no time.

  14. “First they came for the cosmetically improper firearms…”

    Were they pink with polkadots or something?

    They were mostly black, had plastic, and other unsavory cosmetic features to them. Although there is that company which puts out pink and barney purple and the like.

  15. Mrs. Johnson shouldn’t have threatened the DMV by declaring her intention to drive. She forced their hand.

  16. But SugarFree, can they fix joe’s retardation?

  17. But SugarFree, can they fix joe’s retardation?

    Nope. Some things are beyond even the miracle of socialized medicine. That would require Benny Hinn.

  18. joe’s not retarded, just too intent on making his point and defending his team to consider how the words coming out of his mouth sound to rational people. He’s not the only one around here who avows things he wouldn’t apply to an analogous situation he’s not as invested in. The pharmacist thread from Wednesday had a fine display of that, for example.

  19. That would require Benny Hinn.

    I didn’t know he did exorcisms.

  20. First they came for the cosmetically improper firearms,, then the smokers, then the gay marriages, next they’re coming for the medical marijuana.

  21. And I had nobody to speak for me.

  22. If we could only just drive all the drugs into the ocean, addiction and hippies would go away forever!

  23. If we could only just drive all the guns into the ocean, violence and rednecks would go away forever!

  24. I’m not trying to pick on joe too much. After all, in that same thread, he acknowledged that Sulu Friday was a greater thing that he.

  25. if a doctor deems a patient safe to drive then they SHOULD be allowed to drive. it SHOULD be the same situation as methadone maintenance patients or chronic pain patients. which by the way you can’t get a commercial drivers license if you are on methadone that is total bullshit, if you can drive on methadone because a doctor says you can for personal use why the hell can’t you drive commercially. they are bias against natural cannabinoids used as an analgesic while the prescribing of opium is perfectly legal.

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