Judge: Medical-Marijuana Restriction Unfair

July 03, 2007

, Associated Press

In response to a lawsuit brought by a man suffering from AIDS, a judge has temporarily blocked a state rule limiting the number of medical-marijuana patients that caregivers are allowed to oversee.

"This (policy) was done without public input and appears to be arbitrary and very unfair to the plaintiff," Chief Denver District Judge Larry Naves said in a ruling Tuesday.

In 2000, Colorado voters backed a measure allowing caregivers to provide marijuana to patients who need it but the state health department later enacted a rule that each caregiver could only care for up to five patients.

David LaGoy, 47, of Denver is a registered to use marijuana under the law but claimed he has had trouble finding legal caretakers able to accept more patients because of the rule. He said he had stopped taking 10 high-dose medications to treat AIDS and hepatitis C but would resume now that he will be able to get marijuana to deal with side effects from the drugs.

"I don't want to say I feel like I won the lottery," he joked after the ruling.

LaGoy claimed the rule was adopted secretly in 2004 in violation of the state's open meetings law.

Health department spokesman Mark Salley said health officials thought it would be "prudent" to set a limit on the number of patients overseen by a caregiver since they're defined in the law as someone who "has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient."

Naves' ruling suspends the rule until a trial on the issue can be held.

Salley said the state hasn't decided whether it will defend the rule at trial, toss it out or pass a new rule with input from the public.

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