A medical cannabis patient is fighting to have his driving privileges restored after losing his license for 90 days following a 2016 driving under the influence of alcohol charge, the Burlington Free Press reports.
David Ballard, 55, uses medical cannabis to calm symptoms of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The criminal charges were dropped after he successfully completed an alcohol-education program, and counseling at the Howard Center.
Last March, Barbara J. Mayhew-Belatski, a therapist at the Howard Center, wrote in an assessment that Ballard “appears to be at low risk with regard to alcohol,” but called his state-approved cannabis use a mild “disorder” which made her “not able to determine low risk for driving.” She indicated Ballard said “he doesn’t abuse [cannabis] nor does he feel impairment.”
Bessie Weiss, an assistant attorney general defending the Vermont Department of Health decision, said that assessment concludes that Ballard has not successfully completed the drug treatment program as required to regain his license.
In Ballard’s defense, his attorney Norman Blais contends that his client has been denied his driving privileges simply because he is using medical cannabis and the Health Department has no basis to claim Ballard “would drive a car while under the influence of such medication.”
Blais pointed out that his client manages the disease without using opioid-based painkillers “like most people who have ALS do” and he doesn’t believe the state would have a problem reinstating him if he were using the more traditional prescription drugs.