The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports on this story of bureaucratic inefficiency which left a parolee in violation of his terms. Patient didn’t get his card , police can’t access medical cannabis patients database are just two of the problems encountered in the cae
The newspaper reports….
A Pittsburgh medical marijuana patient was jailed last week after he tested positive for the drug and was unable to provide proof of his medical certification to an Allegheny County judge.
Although Mr. Bailey told the judge he used cannabidiol oil and was under a physician’s care, neither he nor his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joseph S. Otte, were able to produce Mr. Bailey’s medical marijuana identification card in court or proof of the card in subsequent legal filings during the next week.
Mr. Bailey remained in jail until his doctor provided proof of his medical certification on Thursday, prompting Judge Tranquilli to order Mr. Bailey’s release. He was freed Friday.
The case shows how heavily the courts and law enforcement must rely on medical marijuana patients’ identification cards to determine whether a person is a legal user of the drug, and suggests patients must take a proactive role in their own legal protection as the court system adjusts to the paradigm shift of legal medical marijuana.
“The only thing that will protect a medical cannabis patient is that card,” said attorney Patrick Nightingale, a partner at Cannabis Legal Solutions, who is not connected to the case.
In Pennsylvania, law enforcement officers cannot access the state’s database of medical marijuana patients. The only way a police officer can immediately verify a patient’s status as legal user is by viewing their medical marijuana ID card.
April Hutcheson, a Pennsylvania Department of Health spokeswoman, said Friday that officers could also call the department to verify a patient’s status, but said there is currently no dedicated phone line or established process for law enforcement to do so.
“I don’t know that it’s been an issue,” she said. “This is a new program and there will be things that come up that are unique.”
Although state records show Mr. Bailey was granted a medical marijuana card in February, he said Friday that he never received it and believes it may have been sent to an incorrect address. He said he does not smoke marijuana and instead relies on cannabidiol oils, which are legally available even without a medical marijuana card. People using the legal oils have been known to test positive for THC in some cases, Mr. Nightingale said.