Medical marijuana: CO Supreme Court ruling leaves patients unprotected, plaintiffs say
Before the Colorado Court of Appeals, Watkins argued that Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana in Colorado, "is paramount and necessarily prevails" over probation rules that forbid him from using or possessing "any narcotic, dangerous or abusable substance without a prescription," according to the ruling on view below. The judges on the Court of Appeals were not persuaded, however. Here's a key excerpt from their decision:
The Amendment provides that it shall be an exception from the state's criminal laws for any patient in lawful possession of a "registry identification card" to use marijuana for medical purposes.... Under the Amendment, however, a physician does not prescribe marijuana, but may only provide "written documentation" stating that the patient has a debilitating medical condition and might benefit from the medical use of marijuana... Therefore, defendant's physician's certification does not constitute a "written lawful prescription" as required by the terms of his probation.
Just as important is this passage, which refers to the original ruling against Beinor:
As a division of this court recognized in Beinor, the Amendment created a defense to criminal prosecution and is not a "grant to medical marijuana users of an unlimited constitutional right to use the drug in any place or any manner."
In the view of Chippi and Colibri, "the Watkins ruling has an even greater impact on marijuana consumers" than does Beinor, in that "it upholds federal preemption." They add, "The ruling means that federal law trumps state medical marijuana laws even though no sufficient federal preemption doctrine analysis on medical marijuana has been conducted."
For these reasons, Chippi and Colibri feel it's more important than ever that Colorado voters approve broader use of marijuana -- for recreational purposes, as well as medical ones -- in the November election. Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, has already been approved, but Chippi and Colibri support Amendment 70, whose backers are currently collecting signatures in the hope that it, too, will make the ballot. Amendment 70 would make cannabis use a right in Colorado, and they believe that's key given the Supreme Court's disinterest in tackling the Beinor and Watkins cases.
"CARE filed initiative 70 in an effort to have language that clearly protects adults who choose to use cannabis and addresses all the issues not addressed in the other proposed marijuana language," they write. "Initiative 70 removes all criminal cannabis laws, creates a constitutional right for adults, regulates cannabis equal to tobacco and prohibits any state resources from being used to enforce federal marijuana laws against adults in compliance with state law."
In lieu of such actions, Chippi and Colibri think "responsible adult marijuana users will not be able to live normal lives without the constant threat of federal preemption."
Page down to see the Supreme Court's denial of the Beinor case, the original Beinor petition, the Colorado Court of Appeals' Watkins ruling and the complete CARE statement.