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Prescription doesn’t prevent pot conviction

SUNDAY, SEPT. 21, 2008

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – Despite having a doctor’s authorization for medical marijuana under state law, a Kitsap County man has been convicted of growing pot.

Superior Court Judge Anna M. Laurie ruled Friday that Robert Dalton’s use of marijuana for chronic lower back pain didn’t meet the conditions of the state law legalizing the medical use of the drug because he failed to show his pain was “unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications,” such as opiate-based painkillers.

Dalton’s lawyers were angered by the ruling and said the judge had no business second-guessing the doctor who recommended Dalton try marijuana.

“If Judge Laurie wants to be a doctor, she should go to medical school,” Hiatt told the Kitsap Sun. “No patient in this state is safe if she’s right.”

Detectives with the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team served a search warrant on Dalton’s property in August 2007. In court documents, they said they found 88 plants, which they said was well beyond the 60-day supply allowed by law – even though the state Health Department has not defined what constitutes a 60-day supply.

Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Cami Lewis called the decision “the correct result.” During closing arguments, deputy prosecutor Coreen Schnepf had argued that opiate medications were relieving Dalton’s pain and that he needed to have pain unrelieved by other medicines to use cannabis.

Hiatt argued that the opiates made Dalton sick and were not effective at quelling his pain.

Dalton faces zero to six months in jail for the felony conviction. His lawyers will ask the judge at an Oct. 17 hearing to suspend any sentence pending their appeal.

With the conviction, Robert Dalton’s medical marijuana card is nullified, he said following the verdict. He said he doesn’t want to use opiates for pain control because they’re addictive.

“I don’t want to be a drug addict,” he said. “That’s why I chose medical marijuana.”


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