Judge Rules New Mexico Inmates Qualify for Medical Cannabis
Albuquerque, New Mexico – Joe Montaño was convicted of drunken driving in 2019. He received a 90-day sentence of house arrest after completing a court-ordered mental health program, on one condition: that he abstain from using any illegal substances.
When Montaño, who owns a refrigeration repair business, was ordered to serve 30 days at Bernalillo County’s Metropolitan Detention Center for violating the terms of his house arrest after correctional officers found and seized cannabis while searching his home.
Montaño’s medicine was taken and he was incarcerated even though lawmakers in the state have passed a measure to allow those on house arrest to use medical cannabis. New Mexico legalized medical cannabis use in 2007.
Because cannabis is still federally illegal, Bernalillo County attorneys argued that Montaño’s cannabis use was a violation of the law, suggesting that Montaño’s house arrest agreement required him to comply with all “city, county, state, and federal laws and ordinances.”
Democratic state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, himself an attorney, recently filed a motion asking the court to allow Montaño to use cannabis in jail.
Metropolitan Detention Center Chief of Corrections, Ralph Fernandez, said in a statement that inmates in the Community Custody Program are still considered to be in jail custody and that even medical cannabis use is not allowed at the detention center.
Judicial District Judge Lucy Solimon agreed to Candelaria’s motion, ruling that state law permitting the use of medical cannabis applied not only to citizens serving their sentences under house arrest or who are under probation but that medical cannabis use is permitted for all individuals incarcerated in the state.
New Mexico law allows qualifying patients to possess eight ounces of medical cannabis over a 90-day period and 16 plants (four mature, and 12 immature), and allows for state-licensed dispensaries.
Advocates for medical cannabis patients in New Mexico hail Judge Solimon’s ruling as a tremendous victory for those convicted of crimes in the state who qualify for medical cannabis to treat the symptoms of their health conditions.
Vivian McPeak is a Seattle based social justice activist, media personality, and writer. Vivian is the president of Seattle Events, a Non-Profit Organization, producer of the Seattle HEMPFEST®, the world’s largest annual cannabis policy reform rally. The recipient of the High Times Magazine 2012 Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award and DOPE Magazine 2016 Emery Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2016 he was named one of the “50 Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine. Vivian has appeared on numerous television and cable news networks, including FOX News, CNN, & NBC. McPeak is the host of Hempresent, a weekly radio podcast on Cannabis Radio with listeners on multiple continents.