Thursday, January 13, 2011

Patient Lawsuit Dismissed by Colo. Supreme Court

The patient petition filed with the Colorado Supreme Court last week was denied on Monday (1/10), only 5 days after it was filed. The Supreme Court opted not to decide the case, forcing the patient and caregiver plaintiffs to start in lower courts and work their way through the appellate courts, a process that will take much longer.

The petition had been filed on Jan. 5, 2011 by Andrew B. Reid, senior counsel for Springer and Steinberg, P.C., a Denver law firm, on behalf of Kathleen Chippi, a Nederland caregiver and dispensary owner, 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.

The petition was an original jurisdiction petition, asking the Supreme Court to decide urgent constitutional issues. The Court has discretion on whether to decide original actions and hears only a small percentage of such petitions filed each year. So its denial of this case was not a total surprise, but patients had hoped for more compassion from the court.

"Apparently, the Supreme Court does not think that it is a matter of great urgency that sick and dying people in Colorado are being denied their constitutional rights of safe and confidential access to medicine," says plaintiff Kathleen Chippi. "This delay in deciding these constitutional issues only harms patients by forcing them to wait months or years for the Court's decision and spend thousands of dollars to decide issues that the Court knows it will be ruling on eventually. In the meantime, the Department of Revenue and the state legislature will continue with impunity to enact unconstitutional laws that harm patients." She says, "We are being treated like second-class citizens yet again."

The petition had asked the court to overturn large parts of laws passed by the Colorado legislature last year (HB 10-1284 and SB 10-109) because they restrict patient access to medicine and violate patient privacy rights guaranteed by the Colorado Constitution.

The Department of Revenue is in the process of replacing the Colorado Department of Health and Environment's confidential patient registry with their own massive government database of patient medicine information. The new Patient and Medicine Tracking Database and Surveillance System will cost the state at least $4 million to set up and will be shared by 5 government agencies and state and federal law enforcement. It will include up to 16,000 different security cameras in Medical Marijuana Centers, visible to law enforcement via Internet web cameras 24/7. The MMCs will be required to videotape patients as they purchase their medicine and log each patient purchase into the database. All of this will be open to law enforcement, including CBI and DEA, and other agencies on demand.

Just as the state has taken away the Constitutional protection of caregivers, they are now taking away the Constitutional protection for patients. MMC applicants were forced to revoke their constitutional right to be a caregiver in exchange for the statutory privilege of applying to operate an MMC. Similarly, patients are being told they must revoke their constitutional right to patient confidentiality in order for the "privilege" of purchasing their medicine at an MMC. Not only is this is completely backwards of how the constitution was supposed to work, but it opens patients up to immeasurable harm if (when) their information is leaked from the government database. Patients stand to lose their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, their children and more if it becomes known that they are medical marijuana patients. That is why confidentiality is at the foundation of Colorado's Medical Marijuana Constitutional

Chippi and other patients are worried these electronic patient records can never be secured on the Internet, as evidenced by WikiLeaks and other recent "accidental" disclosures of records. Once the records have been leaked, the harm has been done and is irreparable to patients.

Chippi will now file her action in District Court. The Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project event on Wed. evening to discuss these issues will continue as scheduled.

Wed., Jan. 12, 2011
Casselman's Bar and Venue
2620 Walnut Street, Denver, CO 80205

The Patient & Caregiver Rights Litigation Project the Cannabis Trade Council and the Cannabis Therapy Institute will be hosting a Public Meeting and Medical Marijuana Legal Panel

FREE and open to the public.


6:00pm - 6:30pm: Mingling and cash bar

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Discussion of current lawsuits to regain patient and caregiver rights and
the positive benefits for cannabis business.
* Andrew B. Reid, Senior Counsel, Springer and Steinberg, P.C., author of
Original Action Petition to Colo. Supreme Court filed 1/5/11.
* Kathleen Chippi, Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project
* Kristy A. Martinez, Attorney at Law, offered Amicus Support for Original
Action Petition
* Peter Loyd Weber, Attorney at Law, offered Amicus Support for Original
Action Petition
* Richard M. Gee, Attorney at Law, offered Amicus Support for Original
Action Petition
* Eric Moutz, Attorney at Law, offered Amicus Support for Original Action

Discussion of security issues regarding new DoR rules and organization of CTC Committees.
* Anthony P. Ibarra, security expert (DigaNET, Inc., Denver)
Head of Cannabis Trade Council Electronic Security Committee
* Veronica Carpio, medical cannabis business owner (420 Highways)
Head of Cannabis Trade Council Committee Organizing

7:45pm - 9:15pm
Moderated by the Cannabis Therapy Institute
Topics for discussion will current and future lawsuits, compliance with the
new DoR rules, the bleak legislative picture, and the prospects of a ballot
initiative in 2012. Opportunity for Q & A from the audience.


Dennis Blewitt (Boulder)
Civil Rights Attorney and Author of Dr. Gonzo's Blog

Richard Gee (Blackhawk)
Phone: (303) 569-6430

Danyel Joffe (Denver)
Attorney at Law
Phone: 303-757-6572

Bill Lahey (Littleton)
Lahey Law Firm, P.C.
Phone: 303-399-3308

Kristy A. Martinez (Longmont)
Phone: 303-772-3230

Eric Moutz (Boulder)
Phone: 303-440-3923

Ann Toney, Lawyer (Denver)
Phone: 303-399-5556

Peter Loyd Weber
Attorney at Law (Broomfield)

For more information, see:

Patient and Caregivers Rights Litigation Project

Cannabis Trade Council

Cannabis Therapy Institute

1 comment:

  1. Is it just me, or does it seem like Obama has put the war on drugs on steroids!?