A state district judge in New Mexico has ruled that inmates and parolees have a right to use medical marijuana and that correctional institutions must provide access to cannabis to qualified patients, even if they are behind bars. Last week’s ruling from 2nd Judicial District Judge Lucy Solimon was entered in a lawsuit against Bernalillo County’s Metropolitan Detention Center brought by Joe Montaño, an Albuquerque resident who was convicted of drunk driving in 2019.
After Montaño was convicted, he successfully completed a court-ordered mental health treatment program and was allowed to serve a 90-day jail sentence under house arrest. Among the conditions for the sentence was a requirement that Montaño not use illegal drugs. After authorities learned of Montaño’s use of medical marijuana, he was jailed for more than 30 days for violating the terms of his sentence.
Attorneys for Bernalillo County argued that because cannabis is still illegal under federal law, Montaño’s use of medical marijuana “was a violation of law contrary to his agreement to comply with all city, county, state and federal laws and ordinances.”