|Graphic: Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project|
A medical marijuana advocacy group in Colorado has filed a lawsuit to overturn parts of that state’s medical marijuana law dealing with patient privacy, safe access, Department of Revenue regulation, and physician recommendations.
Kathleen Chippi and the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project want to scrap parts of House Bill 1284 and Senate Bill 109. The suit was filed by Wednesday with the state Supreme Court, in an attempt to fast-track the process and bypass lower appellate courts.
“This petition was necessary to stop the state’s blatant attack on fundamental constitutional patient and caregiver rights,” Chippi said. “Coloradans need immediate clarification on rights they enjoyed from 2000 through 2009, and why some of those rights were extinguished by the state Legislature in 2010.”
“Medical marijuana patients are sick of being treated like second-class citizens,” Chippi said.
|Patient and Caregivers Rights Litigation Project|
|Kathleen Chippi: “Cannabis in Colorado is a constitutional right, just like the right to free speech, and the state has no authority to destroy those rights”|
”Cannabis in Colorado is a constitutional right, just like the right to free speech, and the state has no authority to destroy those rights,” Chippi said. “I hope that the Supreme Court takes this case out of compassion for the patients, because we have found none in the state Legislature, the Health Department or the Department of Revenue.”
The suit is asking the Supreme Court to rule on two questions: Whether the new rules violate patients’ rights to their medication; and whether information disclosure provisions violate patients’ right to privacy.
“It is the duty of this Court to interpret and enforce and protect those rights,” Reid wrote in the petition. “The will of the clear majority of the People of Colorado and the health and quality of life of hundreds of thousands of citizens and residents of this State suffering from debilitating and life-threatening conditions lie with this Court.”
|Photo: The Marijuana Advocate|
|Damian LaGoy: “I don’t want to see patients die because their confidentiality is no longer protected and they are afraid to get their medicine”|
Damien LaGoy, an outspoken Colorado medical marijuana patient who has been living with HIV/AIDS since 1985, said he was concerned about the state’s new database system that will replace the formerly confidential registry information with a massive database and surveillance system open to law enforcement and other government agencies.
“We went through this 20 years ago with HIV/AIDS patients when the government decided to create a national AIDS database,” LaGoy said. “People were afraid to come out and get tested because they feared their information would be made public.”
“A lot of my friends died because they were afraid to get treatment because they didn’t want to get on the list,” LaGoy said. “The same thing is happening now with medical marijuana. I don’t want to see patients die because their confidentiality is no longer protected and they are afraid to get their medicine.”
The suit also seeks to overturn the ability of municipalities to ban medical marijuana; asks the court to decide if it’s unconstitutional for the Department of Revenue (or any government body) to regulate medical marijuana; to overturn caregiver patient limits; and to rule that physicians cannot be prohibited from recommending medical marijuana due to license restrictions.
“There is no ‘rationality’ in allowing municipalities and counties to regulate to death and ban access of patients to doctor recommended, constitutionally sanctioned, medical marijuana medication while not giving these same local governments authority to similarly regulate and ban far more potent and dangerous, if abused, substances such as pharmaceutical narcotics and alcohol,” Reid wrote in the petition.
“The restrictions undercut the scheme of the Colorado Constitution and the ready access of patients to their medication in a de facto denial of their constitutional rights under the Constitution,” Reid wrote. “The General Assembly was without any authority to legislatively rewrite provisions in the Colorado Constitution.”
“The constitutionally secured privacy of over 100,000 qualified medical marijuana patients and Colorado residents and citizens stands to be irreparably invaded unless there is immediate action by the Court,” Reid wrote.
The petition was filed by Andrew B. Reid, senior counsel for a Denver law firm, on behalf of Chippi, a dispensary owner and caregiver from Nederland, and the Patient and Caregivers Rights Litigation Project, an association of patients, caregivers and physicians that have been harmed by the passage of these laws.