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Marijuana prescription causes some issues in probation violation case

by Rhett Gentry | May 8, 2021 at 2:20 p.m.
Medical marijuana is displayed in a glass case for customers at Green Springs Medical Dispensary in Hot Springs on March 26, 2020. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

Hearings at the 13th Judicial Court in Magnolia generally follow a routine that is not often changed; however, sometimes an unprecedented event occurs in the courtroom that causes head-scratching and page-flipping from the attorneys and the judge in the courtroom.

Such was the case for Terrance Critton, who had a revocation hearing on May 6 for probation violation.

According to court records, Critton tested positive for marijuana on January 8, 2020 and again on February 13, 2020. However, Critton had a card in his back pocket — a Medical Marijuana card.

Critton’s attorney, Lott Rolfe of North Little Rock, did the majority of the talking for his client during the hearing, but did not have to argue much with the judge or Prosecuting Attorneys Ryan Phillips and Ryan Rainwater.

Rolfe and prosecutors agreed that the positive drug tests from 2020 were Critton’s only negative marks from his probation; he had successfully checked in with his probation officer when requested and provided proper excuses with documentation for those that he missed due to hospital visits for a medical condition. He also lives with his parents, which prosecutors agreed was a good for him in his pursuit of completing his parole.

Rolfe said Critton suffers from gastro intestinal issues. His Medical Marijuana card expired in 2020 after his parole violations, and Critton said he has suffered from frequent vomiting since he stopped utilizing the prescription. He told Judge David Talley that he was prescribed the marijuana by Dr. Jerry Grant of El Dorado and filled the prescription in Hot Springs.

When asked, Critton said his method for taking the prescription was through smoking.

“I am not a medical doctor, and the ACC has the requirement that marijuana not be used,” said Talley. “This is the first case I’ve had where the marijuana prescription was the only issue.”

Talley said that shortly after medical marijuana was passed in the state, he joined multiple judges in a discussion about how it would affect the courts; a common consensus among the judges was that the probation office could not overlook positive drug tests for THC from medical marijuana card holders because it would go against their legal procedures.

As a result, Talley said decisions regarding prescribed marijuana would be handled by judges presiding over those on probation.

“(Medical marijuana use) has to be requested beforehand. You must bring documentation from a doctor and it has to be in pill form so the probation office can count the pills,” said Talley, adding that there would also be a provision where the user could not operate motor vehicles.

Talley ruled that Critton was in violation of his probation because the procedures for probationers with medical marijuana cards weren’t followed; however, he said Critton could continue his probation with no time added. Critton was ordered to pay $190 to cover court costs and booking fees.

Talley noted that he is fine with Critton continuing his use of marijuana if he follows the steps he stated in court.

“If the doctor says that pills are not right, I will look into allowing the vegetative form,” said Talley.

Talley noted that he was concerned that if Critton had smokable marijuana, he may be taken advantage of by others who want to illegally use his prescription. He asked the defendant’s father, Arthur Critton, if the family had any problems with their son being around persons who could take advantage of him, who replied “No, your honor.”

Satisfied with the answer, the judge ended Critton’s hearing and wished him luck on completing his probation.

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