AMARILLO, TEXAS — A Texas patient who uses medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of HIV won acquittal on marijuana possession charges Tuesday, March 25 based on a rarely-used “necessity defense.” A necessity defense requires the defendant to establish that he had to break the law to avoid an imminent harm more serious than the harm prevented by the law he broke. This defense has rarely been successful in Texas; however, this jury took just 11 minutes to acquit Tim Stevens, 53.
Stevens had never been in trouble until Amarillo police arrested him for possessing less than 4 grams of marijuana. As a result of his HIV infection, Stevens suffers from nausea and cyclical vomiting syndrome, a condition so severe that he has required hospitalization and blood transfusions in the past.
Extensive research has established medical marijuana as an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting associated with HIV/AIDS and cancer chemotherapy, uses recently acknowledged by the prestigious American College of Physicians. Key in establishing Stevens’ medical necessity was the testimony of Dr. Steve Jenison, medical director of the Infectious Diseases Bureau for the state of New Mexico’s Department of Health.
When you can get a victory for medical marijuana in a conservative part of Texas, you know the tide is turning. Public opinion is way ahead of the politicians on this one. People know marijuana is relatively safe when used responsibly, and people know marijuana can be an effective medicine for many conditions.