Can I Use Medical Marijuana in the Oregon DUII Diversion Program?
Scenario: Jane suffers from multiple sclerosis and is a registered medical marijuana cardholder in Oregon. After a few glasses of wine at a friend’s house, Jane decided to drive home and gets arrested for drunk driving. She was just above the legal limit. Jane had never been in trouble with the law before and qualified for the DUII diversion program. Jane understands the dangers of drunk driving and complies with all of the terms of the DUII diversion program. She begins to experience muscle spasms and pain from her multiple sclerosis but refrains from using medical marijuana in fear of violating the terms of the diversion program. The muscle spasms and pain become much worse and Jane wants to know if she can use medical marijuana and still comply with the terms of the diversion program.
Sadly for Jane, the answer appears to be: no, you must suffer.
The Oregon medical marijuana act (OMMA) protects medical marijuana users from Oregon criminal liability for the production, possession, and delivery of marijuana. Medical marijuana users must suffer from a qualifying debilitating medical condition and must strictly follow the guidelines set out in the OMMA. Despite Oregon’s acceptance of marijuana as a potential form of medical treatment, it is still a crime to produce, possess, and deliver marijuana for any other purpose. The state’s approval of marijuana for specific medical conditions and its continued disdain and criminalization of marijuana generally has created tension in a number of intersecting areas of Oregon law.
One situation in which medical marijuana policy considerations take a back seat to Oregon’s general fear of marijuana use is in the case of a medical marijuana user going through a DUII diversion program. DUII diversion programs essentially create an agreement between the court and the defendant that sets aside a no contest or guilty plea and enables the case to be dismissed in one year if all of the terms of the agreement are met. DUII diversion programs vary from county to county, but generally require that you refrain from consuming intoxicants (alcohol or non-prescribed drugs) for one year. This is where DUII diversion programs and medical marijuana conflict with one another.
Under the OMMA, a doctor cannot prescribe medical marijuana to a patient. The doctor is allowed to determine that a patient is suffering from a qualified debilitating medical condition and that marijuana may be an effective form of treatment. Thus, medical marijuana is actually considered an intoxicant for DUII diversion program purposes and cannot be used for one year. Continuing to use medical marijuana during the DUII diversion program would constitute a violation of the agreement made with the court.
The way in which the OMMA and the Oregon DUII diversion program harshly collide exposes some problems with Oregon marijuana laws. The OMMA and the DUII diversion program fail to acknowledge the other’s existence. DUII diversion programs could easily have carved out an exception for medical marijuana, noting that despite the fact that it is not a prescribed drug, it is a legitimate and legal form of medical treatment for debilitating conditions.
Unfortunately, amendments to the OMMA to allow for medical marijuana to be prescribed would not be as simple. Medical marijuana advocates are confronted with severe opposition to reschedule marijuana in order to make it a prescription drug. The decriminalization of marijuana is a social and political issue that results in heated debate and criticism. Much of the criticism is fueled by unfounded fears of moral decline due to the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, even in a state where a majority recognize its medical benefits.
The OMMA’s purpose is to provide another form of medical treatment. The DUII diversion program is a rehabilitative program designed to ensure that people do not drive under the influence again. The OMMA and the DUII diversion programs individually do not have conflicting goals or messages, yet when they intersect (as in the scenario with Jane above), they send a conflicting message. The message: we want you to have access to medical treatment for debilitating medical conditions…but not when you are trying to fulfill your end of an agreement with the court on an unrelated matter…
Is there any good reason why a person going through the DUII diversion program should not be allowed their medical treatment? If marijuana was rescheduled and allowed to be prescribed, using medical marijuana during a DUII diversion program would not be so different from a diabetic taking insulin shots during a DUII diversion program.
If you have been arrested on Oregon Marijuana Charges, Oregon Drug Charges,or Oregon DUII charges, contact the law firm of Castleberry & Elison, P.C. RIGHT NOW for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL initial phone consultation. An Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer will help you understand your options, explain the likely worst case scenario, and quote you a FLAT FEE for representation. Our criminal attorneys understand the criminal justice system and are prepared to fight for your rights in a court of law.