“That’s not how I want to spend my final days,” said Horan, who says doctors have told her she has just months to live. “This will extend my better days and allow me to be awake and aware and not under the stupor of narcotics.”
Since Hassan signed the bill to legalize medical marijuana, on July 23, 2013, no ID cards have been issued because of a ruling by the Attorney General’s Office not to do so until the state’s dispensaries open, according to N.H. State Rep. Renny Cushing, the Hampton Democrat who has been supporting Horan in her legal fight.
Cushing voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana and said the law wasn’t meant to force patients to wait until dispensaries opened to get their ID cards.
The state health department has estimated New Hampshire’s four dispensaries could open in the first quarter of 2016.
Patients who qualify for medical marijuana in other states are eligible to purchase it in Maine with an ID card from their home state, a form filled out by their doctor and a photo ID, according to Maine state law.
Maine is one of seven states with so-called reciprocity in its medical marijuana law, which allows for visitors from other states to buy the medicine. Five organizations in Maine operate treatment centers in that state, which has eight treatment centers in all.
The state of New Hampshire argued Horan could not be issued a medical marijuana card because the state’s marijuana dispensaries aren’t open, citing state law.
But Horan’s attorney, Paul Twomey, argued that without medical marijuana she would suffer irreparable harm, which could be remedied if given a registry ID card because she would be able to obtain medical marijuana in Maine.
There was also discussion in the case about whether Maine law would indeed allow her to obtain medical marijuana.
The state of New Hampshire didn’t dispute the reciprocity of Maine’s medical marijuana law, but submitted a document from Marietta D’Agostino, the program manager for the Maine Medical Marijuana Program, which said the law was intended to serve patients in Maine for a vacation or school term, not to allow someone to drive there for a day to purchase the medicine and drive back.
Horan countered in a supplemental affidavit that she intends to get treatment in Maine and stay for an extended period there, in accordance with the law.
Tuesday afternoon, Merrimack Superior Court Justice Richard B. McNamara sided with Horan in a 13-page decision.
“The State does not dispute that the Petitioner will suffer irreparable harm if she is unable to take therapeutic cannabis, and will thereby suffer greatly. Money damages, even if available, would be inadequate to compensate her for suffering during the last months of her life,” McNamara wrote in his ruling. “If New Hampshire law authorizes her to receive therapeutic cannabis, then injunctive relief would plainly be in the public interest.”
Horan’s attorney said Maine Rep. Diane Russell has offered to personally host Horan and accompany her to dispensaries there.
“Attorney Twomey and Rep. Cushing are the true heroes in this case,” Horan said. “I was just a willing plaintiff.”
Cushing says otherwise.
“Linda is a real hero,” he said. “There’s no other way to describe her.”
Cushing added he knew the intent of the medical marijuana law when he voted in favor of it, and is incredibly happy with Tuesday’s ruling.
“I think in some ways Linda became a victim or another casualty of the war on drugs,” he said. “Patients like her are being played with, if you will.”
Since Horan began her fight in court, she said she received support from across the country, and after her victory, it has intensified.
She added the decision to take the state to court came naturally for her.
“I was just doing what I’ve been doing all my life — being a voice for people who had no voice,” Horan said.