Medical marijuana dispensary owner won't sign license application, calls it "downright evil"
Earlier today, we shared the thoughts of attorney Danyel Joffe about the medical marijuana business license application. Joffe has problems with the application, which must be filed by Sunday -- but dispensary owner Kathleen Chippi goes much further. She's refusing to file the form, which she regards as "un-American, unconstitutional and downright evil."
Chippi made news in May, when an audio clip of her claiming that 11,000 children go missing in Colorado each year was repeatedly misidentified as Senator Joyce Foster by KHOW's Peter Boyles. The statistic may seem absurdly high, but a 2008 press release from Governor Bill Ritter's office that's included in the post linked above actually claims that nearly 14,000 Colorado children are reported missing per annum.
However, Chippi is best known in the MMJ community as the owner of One Brown Mouse/Cannabis Healing Arts, a Nederland dispensary opened in mid-2009 that earned a rave review from Westword medical marijuana critic The Wildflower Seed this past February.
Because she won't file the license application, Chippi will not be able to operate the dispensary as its owner beyond Sunday. "I can't stay open," she says, "or they're going to come and arrest me. That's the promise. They've been sending out e-mails with big red type saying, 'If you're open on August 2, you're facing criminal prosecution.'"
But that fact isn't enough to make her sign the form -- and it's not because she's been convicted of felonies that would disqualify her from licensure under the new regulatory measures.
"I have a completely clean record," she says. "I'm 42, and I don't even have a speeding ticket."
Among her biggest issues with the application are passages that grant power of attorney to the state, and which allow the state to widely disseminate data about applicants.
"It says they have the right to provide your private information to any state, the U.S. federal government and any foreign country," Chippi says -- and she's right.
At a recent Department of Revenue meeting staged to help businesspersons complete the application, Chippi notes that "they assured everyone the language was in there just to scare away the people who shouldn't be involved -- that they weren't going to implement it. But if they don't intend on implementing it, that language shouldn't be in there."
For Chippi, the danger in signing the form lies in the conflict between the law in Colorado, where an amendment to legalize medical marijuana has been in the state constitution since 2001, and the federal government, which continues to treat all cannabis as an illegal substance with no authorized medical use. She fears the Drug Enforcement Administration might decide to come down on her and other entrepreneurs despite a 2009 Justice Department memo telling agents not to use their resources pursuing individuals who are operating legally in their particular state.
If DEA agents decided to go rogue, she'd be in enormous jeopardy.
"The way I've operated is by purchasing overflow cannabis from patients and caregivers they had and redispensed it to other patients," she explains. "But now, the law says you have to grow 70 percent of the stock for your dispensary." Since her customer base stands at 2,200 patients, "that clearly takes me over 12,000 plants. And that would get me twenty years to life from the federal government."
In her view, "no American has been asked what we're being asked in this application. Let's remember, this isn't a license. It's just the application. And it still asks you to give up all your state and federal rights to privacy, to give up your rights under the Fourth and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and to sign over your power of attorney to the Department of Revenue."
If all that's true, why are other people signing the application? "They're in a catch-22," Chippi says. "They've invested their entire lives into this business. They can't afford not to sign."
As for Chippi, she declines to comment about what will happen with One Brown Mouse/Cannabis Healing Arts. But she plans to continue working in the medical marijuana industry -- just not as a dispensary owner.
"I'd rather lose my business," she says, "than lose both my business and my freedom."
Look below to read more of Chippi's thoughts on the subject, shared earlier in a blog post comment: