Pot Dispensaries Again Try To Keep Patient Records Secret


Graphic: Addo Gaudium

​Lawyers for five Dana Point, California medical marijuana dispensaries are asking an appeals court to reinstate their motion to avoid turning over company records, including financial data and patients’ names, to the city under a subpoena.
The Fourth District Court of Appeals has given the dispensaries until Tuesday to file a petition for an “extraordinary writ,” for which the pot shops are seeking an extension, reports Vik Jolly at The Orange County Register.
In its January 29 order, which took at least one dispensary attorney by surprise, the court found that the appeal in the “case is not from an appealable order” and deemed it an “extraordinary writ” petition.
That petition requires the pot shops to show that an Orange County Superior Court judge abused her discretion in issuing an order to enforce the city subpoena, according to attorney Lee Petros for the Point Alternative Care dispensary.

The dispensaries had appealed higher court Judge Glenda Sanders’ November 2, 2009 order to turn over dispensary records to the city on the basis of interpretation of the law, Petros said.
“I think the error in law is a better argument than abuse of discretion,” Petros said.
“What everyone loses sight of is the information [Dana Point is] trying to obtain, the private information on third parties,” Petros said. “The issue is should these documents of third parties be turned over. Our answer is absolutely not.”
Last July, Dana Point served the dispensaries subpoenas to turn over their records after an organization asked the city to change its zoning laws to officially allow for the pot shops.
The municipal code currently doesn’t explicitly allow or disallow dispensaries, but before changing the code the city said it wanted to make sure the pot shops weren’t acting illegally.
Attorneys for the dispensaries objected to the release or any member names on grounds that the city’s request violates medical and financial privacy rights of patients, the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and the First Amendment protection of freedom of association.