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Big Island man sues for medical-marijuana access

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HILO >>  A Big Island man who pleaded guilty to pot distribution is suing federal probation officers for access to medical marijuana.

Aaron Zeeman’s lawsuit filed July 22 says the refusal by probation officers to allow him to use medical marijuana violates his rights. Denying him the drug constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, the lawsuit says.

Zeeman, 46, of Mountain View, was one of the co-defendants in a marijuana-ministry case. He was sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to four counts of marijuana distribution. A condition of his probation is that he’s not allowed to use marijuana without authorization from the probation department.

Zeeman said he asked the probation office for permission to use medical marijuana or Marinol, which contains a synthetic version of an ingredient in marijuana, but was denied. A Hilo doctor prescribed him Marinol to treat pain from rat lungworm disease.

“It’s right there in my terms and conditions of probation: ‘without prior approval,’ ” he told Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “That implies that they do have (power of) approval. … There’s no due process.”

Felix Mata, the chief federal probation officer in Hawaii and one of the named defendants, said Monday that he hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and didn’t comment further.

Zeeman said he has started taking Marinol in defiance of the probation office, causing him to fail at least two drug tests. He expects to be arrested for violating probation, he said.

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