Medical marijuana fees, bill prompt proposed class-action lawsuit
At this writing, the fate of HB 1358, a Representative Beth McCann-sponsored bill that would shift millions from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's medical marijuana registry fund to the financially strapped Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, is still unknown with just two days left in the current legislative session. But it's already prompted a notice of a class action lawsuit that attorney Rob Corry says will go forward whether the measure lives or dies.
As we've reported, the MMED staff has been reduced from 37 employees to twenty due to what Department of Revenue spokesman Mark Couch described to us last month as "a budget shortfall in the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. Basically, the division had been projecting that it would be collecting licensing fees at a faster pace than it has been."
McCann's bill would address this issue with help from a $10 million CDPHE registry surplus. According to our William Breathes, approximately $9.7 million of that total would be transferred, with $5.7 million earmarked for immediate MMED assistance, $2 million set aside as an emergency fund, and $2 million more for the CDPHE's Tony Grampsas Youth Services program to help with crime and violence prevention.
In addition, around $93,000 would fund police access to the medical-marijuana-patient database -- a prospect that alarms some MMJ advocates, who see it as a violation of patient privacy. They also fear that if a patient flag is triggered by each police contact, officers could use it as probable cause for a possible driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs bust.
Corry is no fan of these notions. "I think the bill is a horrible idea, and I hope they reject it," he says.
But whether legislators give the Heisman to the bill or not, "there's still a lawsuit, because the CDPHE has over-collected $9 million -- and we know that because of HB 1358. The bill's existence tipped patients off that the CDPHE has been over-collecting, probably for the past eleven years or so. It's something we've always suspected, but we had no evidence of it until this bill was proposed."
Page down to continue to continue reading our interview with Rob Corry, as well as to see documents about the class-action lawsuit.