More MS news articles for May 2001

Judge won't dismiss pot charges

The Associated Press

FARMINGTON - A Superior Court judge has denied a request to drop charges against a New Vineyard man who claimed the state's medical marijuana law is flawed.

Leonard Ellis, 63, admitted he grew too much marijuana to treat his muscular dystrophy symptoms as allowed under the Medicinal Marijuana Act, but he said the statue is flawed and he shouldn't be prosecuted.

Judge Kirk Studstrup denied the request.

"It was assumed by the initiators of the legislation that marijuana would be readily available in small quantities," he said in his decision.

However, he said, the law "included very strict limitations on the medical conditions and the amounts allowed. The flexibility is not there, and there is no basis to grant a dismissal."

Ellis' lawyer, David Sanders, argued that the statute allows patients to use marijuana, but doesn't provide a reasonable provision for patients to acquire a constant supply of marijuana throughout the year.

Ellis said that he smokes an average of five marijuana cigarettes a day to diminish his pain, and said he grew so much in his garden so he can store enough for the future.

The Medicinal Marijuana Act allows patients suffering from a serious disease to possess six plants, of which no more than three may be mature, flowering plants. Patients also may have 1 ounce of harvested marijuana, if patients have a doctor's note recommending its use.

Police said they found 83 plants, three coffee cans of harvested marijuana, 43 cigarettes, a small plastic bag and a glass container at Ellis' home.

"I wanted to grow enough to last my lifetime," Ellis said.

Ellis said the pain from the muscular dystrophy has grown so bad that he occasionally spends weeks in bed, but the marijuana eases the pain of the muscle spasms. He said he couldn't tolerate the side effects of conventional medications.

He said he couldn't afford to buy the amount of marijuana he needs to make his pain disappear - a week's worth costs about $150.

Sanders said Ellis shouldn't be held to a flawed law.

"The people of this state have recognized when someone is suffering from a chronic disease, they ought to be allowed to use marijuana," he said. "Mr. Ellis has in fact broken the law, but has broken it for a good reason. He was only trying to get relief."