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    California: Medical Pot Patients 
   May Receive Financial Reimbursement

                Return To OnlinePot’s Legal Section Main Page


  Sacramento, CA: The purchase of medicinal cannabis by
  state-authorized patients is a "bona fide" medical expense 
  and may be covered in part by California’s Medical Assistance
  program (Medi-Cal), according to a decision released last week
  by the director of the California Department of Health Services (DHS).


DPA Wins Fight on Medical Marijuana Expenses in California


Friday, September 29, 2006

DPA’s Office of Legal Affairs achieved a victory for California patients this week after a protracted legal battle. As a result of a court decision on September 25, indigent medical marijuana patients in California who receive public assistance benefits through the Department of Health Services may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of their medicine.

The case centered around Sylvia Price, who uses medical marijuana to alleviate severe, constant pain associated with lupus, a seizure disorder, reflux sympathetic dystrophy, and osteoporosis.  Ms. Price sought and received reimbursements for the cost of her medical marijuana under Lake County’s public assistance program, which took into account Ms. Price’s out-of-pocket expenditures for medical marijuana when determining what level of assistance she should receive. 

Then, three years ago, Lake County suddenly stopped reimbursing Ms. Price, claiming that federal law prohibited it from doing so.  DPA took on her case, and after three administrative hearings and one appeal, the administrative court this week finally resolved the issue.

The decision, written on behalf of the California Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), made clear that DHS policy is to permit reimbursement of medical marijuana claims for patients who receive public assistance  from that agency. DHS’s administrative court also made clear that federal marijuana laws do not prevent the state agency from honoring California’s medical marijuana law and enforcing department policy.

The decision held, in relevant part: "The disparity between federal law treating marijuana as a controlled and illegal substance and California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act has been decided and it is now established that DHS regards medical marijuana used consistent with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act as a bona fide medical expense."

This means that medical marijuana patients receiving public assistance benefits through DHS may qualify for reimbursement of reasonable, documented expenses incurred in obtaining their physician-recommended marijuana.

As for Ms. Price, she in all likelihood will be retroactively reimbursed for several thousand dollars of past out-of-pocket costs in purchasing medical marijuana.

or visit: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/092906mmj.cfm.

  This Ruling Is A "Biggy" Guys & Gals  Chris.

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