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Medical marijuana: CO Supreme Court asked to review Jason Beinor case about MMJ rights

At first, medical marijuana patient Jason Beinor thought losing a court fight over unemployment benefits withheld from him because he failed a drug test was no big deal. But it now looks as if his case could hold the key to cementing MMJ rights in Colorado -- or not. Which is why Beinor's lawyer is hoping the Colorado Supreme Court will consider it.

"If those rights don't exist, there's no argument," notes attorney Andrew Reid. "If they do, patients and caregivers have a broader argument to make."

As we've reported, Beinor was employed by Service Group Inc. as a street sweeper on the 16th Street Mall. However, he was fired after failing a random drug test, even though he's a legal patient.

Thumbnail image for kathleen chippi photo.jpg
Kathleen Chippi.
Afterward, Beinor filed for unemployment benefits, and a hearing officer eventually ruled in his favor because there was "no reliable evidence to suggest that...claimant was not eligible for a medical marijuana license" or that his use of the marijuana negatively impacted his job performance. But his employer appealed the decision, and a panel ruled in the company's favor, citing Article XVIII of the Colorado constitution, which states that an employee who tests positive during working hours for "controlled substances" that are "not medically prescribed" doesn't qualify for benefits. The Colorado Court of Appeals concurred by a 2-1 margin, with the majority finding that patients don't have carte blanche to violate firms' policies and practices.

Beinor, who represented himself in the case, doubted that the ruling would have significant repercussions. But shortly thereafter, the decision was mentioned by town attorneys while successfully defending Longmont's medical-marijuana-retail-business ban. And Kathleen Chippi, who's challenging HB 1284 and SB 109, the state laws put in place to regulate the MMJ industry, believes the answer to her suit submitted under the auspices of Attorney General John Suthers -- namely, that there is no fundamental right to medical marijuana in Colorado, despite a constitutional amendment permitting its use by patients -- is built upon the Beinor ruling.

Developments like these explain why Chippi talked Beinor into appealing the decision, and why her Patient Caregivers Rights Litigation Project is funding Reid's efforts.

The latest step: Reid has filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Colorado Supreme Court. The document, on view below in its entirety, basically asks the court to hear the case. Why is it important that the justices do so?

"The Court of Appeals ruled that there's no constitutional right to use medical marijuana," Reid notes. "It said the only thing the constitution did was decriminalize it. That allows the government to frustrate the intent of the constitution, which was to make the medicine available to patients who need it.

"Even the legislation just passed, 1284 and 109, severely restricts the rights of patients and caregivers, which in turn restricts the right of access and the delivery system -- the medical marijuana businesses. And banning medical marijuana businesses in certain cities and counties frustrates the constitutional rights of patients and caregivers, too.

"If those rights don't exist, there's no argument to make. But if they do, patients and caregivers have a broader argument."


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19 comments
fishman
fishman

... Adding to what was said about decriminalization and taking prescription drugs, its very simple their has never been a marijuana related death using U.S. Government statistic and you can ask Whitney !

Jacob Ebel
Jacob Ebel

The problem here is that it's discrimination. Cannabis is legal, and while not officially "prescribed" by doctor's, it's recommended, and that's close enough. To say otherwise is simply splitting hairs. Employers should not be able to say "You used a legal medicine but we are firing you anyway". That's wrong. If that is the case, then all those folks that suffer anxiety attacks at work and take a Xanax should be fired. If you are on ANY mind altering substance while at work, then you should be fired. It has to be across the board. This is just the system trying to buck what is legally accepted, because of the stigma against Cannabis. It's discrimination, plain and simple.

Monkey
Monkey

Without attacking me can someone explain what this is really about. Is the point of this to force employers to exclude marijuana in drug tests that come from patients? Or is it to force unemployment to pay when a patient breaks an employment policy that specifically relates to marijuana? All I keep going back to is that "The Colorado Court of Appeals concurred by a 2-1 margin, with the majority finding that patients don't have carte blanche to violate firms' policies and practices". Doesn't that mean a employer has the right to include marijuana or any other drug in their own employment policy and anyone including a MMJ patient can either accept or decline that policy but no one can break that policy, if you do you are fired, you agreed to the policy when you accepted the job. What is the goal, patients can break specific policy, employers are forced to change policy or unemployment must pay regardless of employer policy? It seems this is an employment issue, which is a privilege not a right, not a constitutional right to marijuana issue. Maybe the goal is to clarify marijuana can be in a patients urine no matter where they are?

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Please help save MMJ rights for ALL Coloradans by donating at cannabislawsuits.com

And yes, "industry group" of mmj centers that includes YOU!  If no one has a fundamental right to mmj in Colorado, then you lose too, as why would ANY patient register with the state if they have no real protection.  That means per hb1284, the centers will have no customers, as no patients will register.  It's time to kick it down.

And if your dislike for me on a personal level is what stops you from donating, well then I guess the patients will have a clear understanding of your level of compassion for sick people in CO who use mmj. 

Dave
Dave

Drug tests and community service should be mandatory to collect unemployment.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Under the controlled substance act of Colorado, a signed and dated recommendation from a doctor is equivalent to a prescription.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Jacob. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Sean Swanson
Sean Swanson

As I understand it, this case can have huge repercussions or open wide doors for mmj patients.  To quote the article:

"Should the Supreme Court decide against considering the Beinor case, the earlier ruling would stand -- and the finding would weaken complaints about governmental actions seen as potentially harmful to patients and caregivers."

There are many other cases waiting in court right now.  If the State decides mmj users do not have a fundamental right then some negative restrictions may start to be implemented on patients.

If they rule that patients do indeed have some form of fundamental right, then Kathleen Chippi and others will have a better chance with their suits.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Plus in Colorado your employer can fire you 'at will', which means for any reason they want. I have an idea, don't work for someone who doesn't like pot smokers, they just might fire you!!

Instntkrma
Instntkrma

Kathleen- 

what are the costs and how much has been raised? How much has been paid so far and to who? Any chance you will set up as 501c3 so donations are tax deductible?

Randy Eichner
Randy Eichner

Your an idiot "Dave"! You lack the ability to take into account those people who are disabled. Just like the gov! Looser!

TeslaNova
TeslaNova

Says the guy who sits at home on his butt posting idiotic comments all day.

Raymartinez31
Raymartinez31

That's wrong....it is not like a Rx...totally different.

Guest
Guest

most companies don't allow people to fire at will. usually managers can't even fire someone with out three of thier bosses having to sign off on it. which means the person firing you would have to explain how your work performance was suffering or what have you. they couldn't say he is pro legalization so i fired him. that shit doesn't fly in corporations. basically, if you do your job and aren't a complete idiot you should be ok. but, keep up the fear tactics cheney. 

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

We won't know the total total costs until the end but we need $15,000 - $20,000 for the Beinor appeal immediately.  We raised $250 (equivalent an ounce of medical grade cannabis) as of last week Friday.  I have not checked the account since.  But we have raised no where near what we need. 

Donations can be made to a 501c3-but you should contact me before donating so I can arrange it at patientlawsuit@yahoo.com.  Most donations have come from struggling patients and caregivers and have been small amounts.  We would love to receive a donation that would actually impact a tax return, but we understand the horrible economic times for patients and caregivers.  So we need people with money who believe in human rights and have compassion to step up. 

PR420
PR420

The fund raising event will be through a 501c3

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