Medical marijuana: CO Supreme Court ruling leaves patients unprotected, plaintiffs say
CARE press release:
Colorado Supreme Court decision to not hear the Beinor-V-ICAO and the People -v- Watkins appeals
The Supreme Courts denial to hear the appeals in both Beinor-v-ICAO and People-v-Watkins demonstrates a pattern of judicial activism that started with the People-v-Clendenin ruling in 2009, that went un-appealed. The lower Courts have misread the Constitution and the Colorado Supreme Court continues to frustrate the will of the people by refusing to make a final decision on state medical marijuana rights, a decision that will ultimately have to be made. The denials are another tragic blow to medical marijuana patients.
The Beinor ruling means that possession of medical marijuana is merely decriminalized. More importantly, patients now have no protections from losing their jobs, unemployment benefits, occupational licenses, fire arms, school grants, government aid, housing, insurance and/or child custody over their use of medical marijuana. The denial is surprising, as the Attorney General filed a cross petition of cert for the case to be heard. The appeal was funded primarily by Kathleen Chippi through Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education (CARE), founded by Rico Colibri, with help from the medical marijuana industry groups ACT4CO and CBA.
The Watkins ruling has an even greater impact on marijuana consumers, as it upholds federal preemption. It's denial to be heard did not come as a surprise as the Attorney General did not petition Watkins be heard. 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.
The Watkins appeal made by Sensible Colorado actually conceded to the federal preemption ruling up front and addressed only a patients right to use medical marijuana while on probation. However the Beinor ruling already clarified that patients do not have a right to use medical marijuana. Unfortunately, even if Watkins had been heard, the lack of a federal preemption challenge in their arguments would have created a moot win because the appeal agreed that state medical marijuana laws are trumped by the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
If the highest court in Colorado will not hear the peoples appeals to clarify the 'grey' medical marijuana language in our constitution that then begs the question of "What's next for Colorado?" These rulings are important lessons. When Coloradans amend our constitution the language must be clear and concise and cannot be ambiguous or the courts will not uphold the intent. In order to create a constitutional right to use marijuana, the language must clearly say that.
Vague constitutional amendments do not supersede the state CSA, as ruled in Beinor, and the citizens pay the price in the courts. To protect adults who use marijuana, either medically or recreationally, we need to concisely create a state right and deny state resources from being used to enforce federal laws against adults in compliance with state law. With Watkins ruling, there are now no protections to sell marijuana, either medical or recreational. CARE took precautions in the event these appeals were denied by the Colorado Supreme Court by authoring initiative 70, which can be found at the Colorado Secretary of states site or at equalizecannabis.com.
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. 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. Currently, across the nation, states have passed statues or legislative resolutions rejecting both Real ID and Obamacare in direct conflict with the federal supremacy clause. During alcohol prohibition, some states refused to enforce federal laws prior to the federal government repealing alcohol prohibition.
Without these protections from the bad Beinor and Watkins rulings, responsible adult marijuana users will not be able to live normal lives without the constant threat of federal preemption and the collateral consequences of leaving marijuana in the CSA.
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