7 June 2016
A judge has ruled that the Arizona Department of Health Services wrongly denied a hearing to petitioners who want people with Parkinson’s disease to qualify for medical marijuana..
In 2010, voters approved a list of ailments that can qualify an Arizona resident to legally use marijuana: chronic pain, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, ALS, and agitation from Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association submitted eight petitions to add new qualifying ailments to the state’s medical-marijuana law, and the state denied every one. The activist group led by Heather Manus, a registered nurse, decided to appeal the denials for patients suffering from Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. They enlisted the help of San Diego attorney and former Tucson dispensary principal Ken Sobel, who’s working pro bono.
Registered nurse Heather Manus of the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association spearheaded the appeal.
Greg Falls, a private attorney paid by the DHS with fees collected from patients and dispensaries, argued in February that the state was right to deny a hearing, because the group hadn’t shown “sufficient evidence of acceptable scientific quality” that cannabis could help with Parkinson’s.
To obtain a hearing, Lang wrote, state rules require only that “evidence” be submitted showing that cannabis can make a patient better, or at least feel better. That means “any evidence,” she added. But the state decided that the evidence should meet the high standards of reliability that “physicians generally accept as useful to their level of responsibility.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services incurs large legal fees to try and keep serious diseases from being listed as qualifying ailments under the state’s medical-marijuana program.
In its latest effort, the department has spent tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars — which comes from medical-marijuana patients — trying to keep Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases from getting listed.
Records show the department paid $650,000 to Sherman & Howard, LLC, last year and at least $94,000 this year for legal services related to medical marijuana.
While the department declined to categorize the exact services on which that money was spent, citing attorney-client privilege, since last year the firm has helped the DHS oppose the addition of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases as qualifying ailments — and even to help oppose any public hearing from being held on the issue.
Gregg Falls Attorney http://shermanhoward.com/attorney/gregory-w-falls/