Medical marijuana: Colorado Supreme Court rejects petition challenging MMJ laws

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That was fast. Last week, MMJ advocates represented by attorney Andrew Reid petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the state's medical marijuana laws.

But the Supremes have already rejected this bid, forcing Reid and his clients to take a much slower path through lower courts in order to advance their challenge.

"We're deeply disappointed the Supreme Court didn't take the case, but it's not unexpected," Reid says. "We understand that the court takes very few of these. But we'll do what we have to do to bring it back to the court."

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Kathleen Chippi.
The petition and its supporting material, on view in their entirety below, argues that the marijuana regulatory measures signed by Governor Bill Ritter in June impinge on patient access to medication and their right to privacy in violation of Amendment 20, which legalized MMJ in Colorado. The petitioners are led by Kathleen Chippi, former owner of One Brown Mouse/Cannabis Healing Arts, who announced in July that she wouldn't sign Colorado's medical marijuana license agreement. She described the document at the time as "downright evil."

At the time of his most recent interview with Westword, Reid hadn't seen paperwork from the Supreme Court about the rejection. Instead, he was informed about the denial by phone. But he notes that the decision "isn't a determination on the merits of the case. It's only the Supreme Court telling us we need to go through lower courts first -- and we're preparing a case to file in lower courts. We'll work our way up as quickly as possible."

Right now, Reid is in the process of targeting the next-best venue for the case. He hopes to reach a conclusion within a week or so, depending on assorted factors.

"My clients are located in Boulder County, but the defendant -- the state government -- is located in Denver, and we have members of the caregivers group throughout the state," he points out. "So that's part of the determination we'll make. And some of it will depend on how quickly we can move through the courts. Some courts are slower than others due to their docket."

As for how quickly the case might be heard, he cites numerous variables.

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"If the case is presented as a purely legal question as to whether or not the medical marijuana legislation is constitutional, and the court is just comparing the language of the constitution with the language of the legislation, that could be heard pretty quickly, because it wouldn't require any additional evidence," Reid maintains. "But the court might want to hear evidence about, say, the injury to the patients due to the interference of access to medication by the legislation, or it might want to hear some evidence about the nature of medical marijuana as a medication in treating specific illnesses.

"For example, if the court makes the determination that it's a life-saving medication for patients with stomach cancer or AIDS, because it controls nausea -- and if it determines that denying them the medication is sentencing them to death -- that may help the court reach a quicker decision."

Whether lower courts agree with his legal takes or not, Reid feels the case, or one like it, will eventually wind up at the Colorado Supreme Court. "There's one case pending in Broomfield and another in El Paso County that deals with the takings issue, which challenges the right of counties to ban dispensaries under the legislation," he says. "That's one of the main issues in our case as well, so they may take it up before ours. We'll see."

Look below to read the petition -- all 58 pages of it -- and 240 pages of supporting material.


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13 comments
Starter
Starter

Courage, Liberty, Guns and Weed I've often been told that when you're giving a speech — if all you get is applause and cheers — and you never piss anyone off — you're no better than a low-life politician, because you're not challenging anyone's conventional mode of thought. Hopefully, I get at least a few eyebrows raised here in my 8—9 short minutes….

So let's start out with the easy stuff, ok? I'm a tenther. That means I believe that the federal government should exercise only those powers that we the people delegated to it in the constitution — and nothing more. For example, no Obamacare mandates, no bank bailouts, and definitely no federal gun laws — period.

Question. How many people here own a gun, or manufacture or sell guns?

And how many of you are proud felons — meaning, when the government makes rules to restrict your right to keep and bear arms, you simply ignore them because they don't have the authority to do so?

HEMPCON

I recently went to an event called Hemp Con down in my part of the state — Los Angeles. This is a big event at the LA convention center — with loads of vendors and businesses from every angle you can think of in support of the marijuana industry. There were home security companies to help protect your weed, solar power companies to help you grow your weed, doctors giving out medical marijuana cards to virtually anyone with $80 and an hour of time. There were even delivery services — you can get your marijuana delivered to you 24 hours a day…in 30 minutes or less. The pizza companies have nothing on these guys! It was amazing if you think about it from an economic standpoint — this was capitalism, the free market — working its wonders around an industry.

What's the point?

Virtually EVERY single one of those businesses was either directly violating federal law, or aiding someone else in doing so because marijuana is illegal, according to the feds — but not the constitution — in all situations. In 2003, Tommy Chong was arrested for merely selling pieces of glass — pipes that could be used to smoke marijuana. And today, 7 years later, we've got what seemed to be the WalMart of weed in Downtown Los Angeles. And guess what — no ATF or DEA thugs shut the place down. Business functioned, people did what they wanted to in freedom, and that was that.

FREEDOM TO TRAVEL

Another quick story.

In 2005, the Bush administration got the REAL ID act passed, which was — in the eyes of many — a new form of a national ID card. We were warned that if this act wasn't followed, people wouldn't be able to travel, enter federal buildings, get on planes, and the like.

Much of my girlfriend's family lives in Missouri, a state that's not in compliance with the Real ID act. Her relatives do a little traveling from time to time. They get on airplanes and show their non-compliant Missouri driver's license. No federal agents stop them and prevent them from boarding a plane.

Well, most state DL's — including those in Missouri — don't comply with the Real ID Act. That law is still on the books in DC — it's never been repealed. It's never been challenged in court either. But — due to 25 states refusing to comply with the “law” — in much of the country that Real ID act is virtually null and void.

Here in California, the state always seems to be on its knees, begging the feds for something. Well, except on marijuana. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that state medical marijuana laws were illegal. At that time there were 10 states that had such laws. Do you know how many were repealed? Zero. And today, there's 14 states defying Washington DC, and getting away with it.

Today, we see the Firearms Freedom Act movement growing along these lines — it's already passed in 8 states. Following that lead, 5 states have passed laws saying no to Obamacare mandates too.

THE LESSON

What's the lesson? This is the blueprint — when enough people say no to unconstitutional laws, regulations….and mandates….and enough states pass laws to back those people up — there's not much the federal government can do, but slowly and consistently back off. There's no tanks rolling into Los Angeles to shut down the dispensaries, and there's no jack-booted thugs forcing people to get new driver's licenses in Missouri. This is far from perfect, but it can work, and it is working right now.

So here's the final question — and the big challenge to you today.

The next time you begrudgingly follow some federal “law” that restricts your right to keep and bear arms — or the next time you hear about a gun rights case that will be decided in 2, or 4, or 6 years — with the hope that some judge will give you permission to exercise your rights, ask yourself this question:

Do you….gun rights activists….have as much courage as the pot smokers?

For the sake of liberty — I hope you do — because I believe that we the people need to exercise our rights whether they the government wants to give us “permission” to or not!

Robert
Robert

A case against the constitutionality of the General Assembly's abominations is now on the record. The arguments made in it, honed and augmented, will now resound through the lower courts -- as soon as patients and caregivers come forward and sue. I just met a woman with scoliosis and an extensive surgical history whose specialist's recommendation of medicinal cannabis for her severe pain was rejected on the grounds of a lack of medical necessity (completely outside the purview of the CDPHE to ascertain in the first place) -- she threw away her application and manages with opiates. We must come up with plaintiffs who can document and attest to the outrages perpetrated by the State upon them to come forward -- contact Rob Corry, contact Cannabis Therapy Institute. Polly is absolutely right -- whether it's plaintiffs able to fund their own suits against SB109 & HB1284 or people willing to step up and help the cause of litigating for patients and caregivers' rights, we need money.

May Jarril
May Jarril

Given the fact that Congress "forgot" the Fifth Amendment ('member, Constitutional Congress) in its reading of the Constitution last week, guess it's all about par for the course that the judges don't want to be bothered with a simple constitutional question.First Amendment - freedom of assembly, speech, etc. That means I can invite my neighbor over and visit or even go visit outside or on the street, and as long as we're not blocking traffic, we are exercising our First Amendment rights and nobody can levy a tax on us.So why is it that once again, Cannabis users are not governed by the same laws as everybody else. If a person has a Constitutional right, that means the guvmint doesn't have the power to tax. because the power to tax is the power to destroy.Guess our supreme judges want those lower court judges to get busy and decide the Constitutionality of continuing the politics of oppression and exclusion.Good Work, Kathleen!!!!!ps, for anybody that didn't know, in Colorado, people who have certain designated medical conditions enjoy the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT (voted on by the people) to use their medicine.

Jim
Jim

The whole thing seems to be a classic bait and switch on the part of the State.

Guest
Guest

If anything here's a hint maybe hit them at the pockets and funds they should of never had access to they are using our millions that there hiding against us It was written that they wouldn't touch our fund that's the only reason they have any pull they took 9 million off it where is the 18/20 plus millions left well the huge law enforcement data base was off our mmj funds I can bet !!

Guest
Guest

Sorry my bet to win better will be with a Constitutional lawyer not a sell out.Sorry Robert I like most your post but this one I have to disagree on Robert Corry

Guest
Guest

What's funny tho they can spend the time to hear someone fool who owes debt? before someone who is sick or dying this is just fully heartless of our supreme courts and we also should be heartless against them impeach them.

Guest
Guest

Bait and switch is there middle name but if we get a just judge they can see how the State of Colorado has broken every bit of A20

Carefree
Carefree

Agree-The state is now going to use the mmj money to prosecute patients caregivers and centers. We need to stop funding the states efforts to take our constitutionally protected rights from us.

Robert
Robert

I mentioned Rob, who is without question the attorney who has the most experience litigating cannabis-related issues in Colorado (and I suppose, the world), and he has won some signal victories. I have been present at just one of several returns of medicine wrongfully seized from patients and caregivers which he has effected, I have seen him win against the CDPHE before Judge Naves of the Denver District Court, and I heard the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals in People v. Marzano (another victory), which may become the second bit of cannabis-case law (after People v. Clendenin). People who want to end Prohibition need to turn their attention outwards; there is an electorate to win over! Rob has been joined by other capable attorneys in fighting for medicinal cannabis -- leave it at that. Andrew Reid's petition is in no sense competitive with suit(s) Rob may file. With all due respect and appreciation for Andrew and his petition, being a constitutional lawyer is undoubtedly helpful to challenging the constitutionality of SB109 & HB1284, but being a "marijuana lawyer" also redounds to the strength of the arguments mounted.

Starter
Starter

But yet they believe in complying to a unconstitutional laws before the patients shows the greed comes first like it's posted what happen to all the law suits ??????

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