Knutson + Casey Files Lawsuit Challenging Medical Marijuana Use for Parolees

According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, former inmates on parole cannot consume medical marijuana even if they have a doctor’s prescription – even though medical marijuana is legal in the state of Minnesota and many patients rely on this medication to relieve medical conditions. The Mankato law firm Knutson + Casey is filing a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections to protect the rights of parolees and allow them to consume the medical marijuana they need to comfortably live.

Minnesota Laws on Parolees and Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Minnesota, under certain conditions. This law went into effect in 2014, when the Minnesota State Legislature passed SF 2470. This statute states that the use of medical marijuana is legal in the state of Minnesota for patients with certain medical needs. Patients can only consume cannabis oils, edibles, and concentrates, not dried marijuana to smoke. In addition, patients can only receive a 30-day prescription at a time.

In order to receive medical marijuana, patients must have a physician’s prescription for the use of these products and one of the following qualifying conditions.

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Cancer, if the specific cancer or treatment produces nausea, wasting syndrome, chronic pain, or vomiting
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Seizures and epilepsy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Terminal illnesses with a life expectancy of less than one year, and a condition or treatment producing severe pain, vomiting, nausea, or wasting syndrome
  • Chron’s disease
  • Autism
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasms
  • Any other condition or treatment approved by the health commissioner

While medical marijuana is legal in Minnesota, recreational marijuana use is still a criminal offense. As a result, the Minnesota Department of Corrections lists marijuana as a forbidden substance on many parolees’ release conditions. The reasoning behind this ban is that drug tests used by parole officers cannot distinguish between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. In addition, marijuana is still illegal federally, so the Department of Corrections continues to enforce this ban at the expense of medical marijuana patients.

Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Even the Minnesota Department of Corrections cannot deny the medically-backed benefits of medical marijuana for chronic, debilitating, and terminal conditions. For cancer patients, chemotherapy treatments often cause very unpleasant side effects, such as chronic pain, vomiting, nausea, and a loss of appetite. Scientists have shown that marijuana can significantly reduce these symptoms.

Medical marijuana is a natural and effective pain reliever, providing a reprieve to patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis, Chron’s disease, and cancer. Medical marijuana can also reduce seizures, especially in epilepsy patients. Seizures can be a terrifying reality for many people, and can require lengthy hospitalization if a person continues to suffer from them. Marijuana reduces the occurrence of these seizures so people can lead normal lives.

In addition to these benefits, medical marijuana can also help alleviate the symptoms of several mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Marijuana can also improve muscle tone in multiple sclerosis patients, improving movement and control over motor skills that was not present before.

The Knutson + Casey Lawsuit on Parolees and Medical Marijuana

Knutson + Casey is representing a Minnesota parolee named Darrell Schmidt, who takes medical marijuana to alleviate his post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Schmidt has tried other remedies to alleviate these conditions, but his doctor prescribed medical marijuana as an alternative after an anti-depressant led to internal bleeding in Schmidt.

Schmidt will be on parole until 2035 for a 2010 criminal sexual conduct conviction. The ban on marijuana means that Schmidt will have to battle significant mental anguish and pain for 16 years. Knutson + Casey remain adamant that this ban is invading the doctor-patient relationship and denying parolees necessary medical treatment.

The lawsuit pushes for the Minnesota Department of Corrections to allow parolees to consume the prescribed medical marijuana they need. If the Department of Corrections does not accept that condition, the lawsuit asks that the court to grant a restraining order to allow Schmidt to take the prescription he needs.