Cancer patient’s lawyer says she can get marijuana in Maine

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A woman with late-stage lung cancer could get medical marijuana in Maine if New Hampshire health officials issue her an identification card saying she’s eligible before the state opens its own dispensaries, her lawyer said Thursday in court documents.

Linda Horan wants a judge to order the state to grant her a medical marijuana ID card now so she can buy marijuana legally in Maine. Lawyers for the state argue that would undermine New Hampshire’s need to control distribution.

Horan, a retired telephone worker and longtime labor activist from Alstead, said after a hearing last week that she may be dead before in-state dispensaries open next year.

Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara did not indicate when he will rule. Thursday was the deadline he set for lawyers on both sides to file any additional information they wanted him to have.

In his documents, Assistant Attorney General Francis Fredericks quoted Maine officials as saying Maine’s willingness to dispense medical marijuana to qualifying visitors from out-of-state is directed at those who are there for a vacation or school, not those who come for a one-day, one-stop excursion.

He also stressed that the New Hampshire law does not contemplate patients getting marijuana anywhere other than a certified, in-state alternative treatment center.

“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.

Horan’s lawyer, Paul Twomey, filed affidavits from Maine dispensary operators saying Horan could get marijuana there with a New Hampshire ID card. He noted that some of those operators said visitors should say they are there for an extended stay. Twomey said Horan has invitations from numerous Maine residents, including state Rep. Diane Russell, who was a sponsor of the Maine medical marijuana law passed in 2009.

Twomey said in court last week that New Hampshire officials could approve Horan’s application for a medical marijuana card before the end of the month, but officials have no intention of distributing the cards until the treatment centers are open.

State Rep. Renny Cushing, a co-sponsor of the medical marijuana law passed in 2013, said Thursday he’s frustrated that health officials are spending time and money trying to thwart lawmakers’ intentions.

“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.”

Cushing said he’s looking forward to driving Horan to Maine to meet Russell.

“I’m just trying to help Linda, before she dies, get the relief she’s entitled to,” he said.