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CONCORD, NH – Dying labor activist Linda Horan should be allowed to buy legal medical marijuana in Maine now because she may not live long enough to benefit from New Hampshire’s dispensaries since they are still months away from opening, her lawyer, Paul Twomey, argued Thursday.
Twomey told Judge Richard McNamara in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord that Horan has terminal lung cancer and shouldn’t be denied medical marijuana just because the state’s program has been delayed.
Horan, who sued the state Department of Health and Human Services to get the medicine now, has done everything the state required in applying for a state-approved card, Twomey said.
If Horan had the card, she could buy the medical marijuana at a Maine dispensary, he said.
“We’re asking this court and the state of New Hampshire to follow the law as the Legislature directed. It’s a simple matter,” Twomey argued.
Assistant Attorney General Frank Fredericks argued that Horan cannot get a state-approved card until the New Hampshire dispensaries are open.
“New Hampshire should not have to abandon its protocol and its plan because Maine is a step ahead,” Fredericks said.
After the hearing, Horan told reporters she doesn’t want to live her final days in an opiate haze, and she is frustrated with the state.
“I want the state to stop dragging their feet over technicalities when we are talking about sick people, terminally ill people,” Horan said.
At this point, Horan said she doesn’t have “the time to fool around with this nonsense.”
Asked if she believes politics are at play, Horan said, “Yes, I do. I don’t know what they are. I don’t know why the state is dragging its feet.”
Last week, Gov. Maggie Hassan’s spokesman William Hinkle sent an email to InDepthNH.org that included the following:
“As the state has worked to implement the infrastructure for this program from the ground-up, it has been critical to take the time to do this in the right way while following all state laws and regulations.
“The law that we have put in place — as approved by the legislature – requires ID cards to contain the ‘registry identification number corresponding with the alternative treatment center the qualifying patient designated,’ which prevents the issuance of these cards until the ATCs are open.”
At the hearing, Twomey said officials in Maine told him Horan could buy medical marijuana there as long as she had the New Hampshire-approved card.
Fredericks told Judge McNamara that he didn’t accept Twomey’s offer of proof. McNamara said he would prefer to have something in writing from Twomey, who said he would get a signed affidavit from a dispensary owner in Maine stating Horan could get the medical marijuana there if she had a New Hampshire card.
Fredericks said the card must be used at a New Hampshire dispensary to make sure patients get the quality and amount they are prescribed.
McNamara took the matter under advisement.
Horan left court in a wheelchair pushed by a friend and flanked by supporters to speak with reporters after Tracy A. Uhrin, the clerk of Merrimack County Superior Court, said she couldn’t do it inside the courthouse.
Horan, who has lost weight because of her illness, maintained the smile that has characterized her public battle. Horan said she felt very cold as a light rain fell outside the courthouse.
“I’m entitled to medicine that will ease my final days and I’m being denied the relief the legislature intended that I have,” Horan said.
About InDepthNH: Nancy West founded the nonprofit New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism in April. West is the executive editor of the center’s investigative news website InDepthNH.org. West has won many awards for investigative reporting during her 30 years at the New Hampshire Union Leader. She has taught investigative journalism at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting’s summer program for pre-college students at Boston University. West is passionate about government transparency. The New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, formerly called Investigative News Network, which is also InDepthNH.org’s fiscal sponsor. Cllick here to read about INN to learn more about the mission of nonprofit news.
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