Suit filed to overturn marijuana laws

A suit filed with the Colorado Supreme Court Wednesday seeks to overturn parts of two laws passed by the legislature last year and signed by Governor Bill Ritter in June.

Those laws, HB 10-1284 and SB 10-109, according to plaintiffs, illegally restrict patient access to marijuana and may also violate the confidentiality clause in the constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in Colorado.

“Every person buying medical marijuana now has to be videotaped. What if those videos get out? Marijuana is still illegal according to federal law. People can lose their jobs if their employers know they have medical marijuana. They can lose their kids,” said plaintiff Kathleen Chippi.

Chippi is a Nederland medical marijuana caregiver and dispensary owner. She is also a leader in the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project.

The suit was filed by attorney Andrew B. Reid who said he expects to know whether the Supreme Court will hear the case within a couple of weeks. “This effects the rights of hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in Colorado,” he said.

A press release issued by the Cannabis Therapy Institute says there are two primary questions posed to the court by the suit:

1) Do HB 10-1284 and SB 10-109 violate patients’ rights to their medication as secured by the Colorado Constitution?
2) Do the information disclosure provisions of HB 10-1284 violate patients’ Constitutional rights to privacy?

Specifically, the suit says a provision in HB 10-1284 that allows cities and counties to ban medical marijuana distribution is unconstitutional.

Chippi said a new database being created by the State, which would give police officers access to an internet-based database of medical marijuana licensees on a 24×7 basis is a breach of confidentiality.

Mike Saccone, communications director for the Colorado Attorney General’s office, said the AG will defend the suit as needed. “We believe both of these laws are defensible,” he said.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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