Felons who want medical marijuana put state in awkward position

Several times a week for the past two years, felons on supervision have asked the Department of Corrections for special permission to use medical marijuana.

Some of the requests, which are signed by doctors, are vague, listing just “chronic pain” as the reason for the drug. But others describe agony: anorexia from AIDS or chronic vomiting from chemotherapy.

As regular as rain, the state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) has turned down nearly all of them. Out of 320 requests, seven people have gotten permission — a select group that includes a forger wasting away from AIDS and a white-haired grandmother named Kathy Parkins with fibromyalgia.

Squeezed by conflicting duties of policing felons while not meddling with their medical treatment, the agency has been swept into the complex and ongoing debate about the state’s 12-year-old, voter-approved medical-marijuana law.

The pressure on the DOC to permit felons to use medical marijuana is likely to intensify as the medical-pot industry flourishes and polls show public opinion increasingly favoring legalization. New patients are being authorized by the day, and dozens of new marijuana dispensaries are eager to serve them.

The state is even getting in on the action, announcing earlier this month an attempt to tax medical-marijuana retail sales. Advocates for medical pot estimate at least 100,000 patients statewide are approved for its use and about 5,000 people make their living off medicinal pot.

via : The Seattle Times

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