Health Director’s Medical Marijuana Denial Ruled Illegal

Jun 6, 2014

An administrative law judge has ruled that state Health Director Will Humble acted illegally in denying access to medical marijuana to people — many of them former soldiers — suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

State Health Director Will Humble
Credit Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer

The 2010 voter-approved Medical Marijuana Act spells out that certain conditions entitle someone to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. These range from glaucoma and AIDS to severe and chronic pain. It also requires the health chief to consider petitions to add new conditions. Humble did get a request to add PTSD, but rejected it after concluding there are no good scientific studies to show the drug works on that. However, the administrative law judge said there also was anecdotal evidence by doctors and patients that marijuana helps PTSD sufferers deal with symptoms — evidence he said Humble should have considered. Humble acknowledged there are plenty of those stories.

“But throughout my entire career I’ve really focused on using scientific evidence really as the cornerstone of good, effective decision making when it comes to implementing public policy,” he said.

The administrative judge’s decision is technically only a recommendation. Humble has until July 9 to accept or reject it. But, attorney Richard Sobel, representing the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association which brought the claim, said if that happens he will take the issue to court.