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CannaBiz: Patient rights in trouble


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Patient rights threatened

When the Colorado Court of Appeals backed the employer that withheld unemployment benefits from Jason Beinor after a positive drug test, it looked to casual observers like it affected only the Denver medical marijuana patient.

Not so, says Kathleen Chippi, whose Patient and Caregivers Rights Litigation Project is suing Colorado to have portions of MMJ-based legislation passed in recent years overturned. And when Chippi writes in a press release that "MMJ, in its entirety, is on trial in Colorado," it turns out that's not far from the truth, says her attorney, Andrew Reid.

"The court turned to the constitutional issue and it held that there was no constitutional right to use medical marijuana, but that all the constitution does is, it decriminalizes," says Reid in a Wednesday phone conversation from Denver. "Which means you cannot be criminally charged for using marijuana, but there's no constitutional right to use it."

And what that really means is that the first time Amendment 20 came before one of the highest courts in the state, its teeth were taken right out.

"If you have no constitutionally secured right, then your ability to assert your legal protections, in terms of the use of medical marijuana, are lessened," says Reid. For example: "A divorce court, or a custody court ... could restrict them in terms of [a patient's] use of medical marijuana. You could be denied by the state school benefits, loans and so forth, if you're a medical marijuana patient, because there's no constitutional right."

Reid says he expects to file a petition to the Colorado Supreme Court next week.

"It's discretionary — they may decide not to hear this," he says. "[Though] given the nature of the issues and the broad impact on citizens of the state of Colorado, we are hopeful that the court will accept."

Keef crumbs

• Colorado Dispensary Services' Jake Browne says on his blog that the state's rule that patients must wait for their card, or for 35 days to pass since applying, has been changed. Now, medication may be purchased immediately with a certified mail receipt, the application and proof of a physician recommendation. A call to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to confirm was not returned as of press time.

• The Denver Post reports there are 736 centers that have applied for licensure with the state.

• Just a note: In this issue you should find a copy of ReLeaf, our quarterly guide to all things medical marijuana in Colorado Springs. If yours is missing, feel free to request one in our offices at 235 S. Nevada Ave., or find it there.

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