Medical Marijuana Patient-Tracking Program against Colorado Constitution?
Medical marijuana advocates are crying foul over a proposed plan in Colorado to track patients and share the information with law enforcement, and also over the way discussions about the plan have been kept from the public.
The firestorm kicked off when William Breathes from Denver Westword reported on a closed-door meeting on the issue. "The departments are not helping us," said medical marijuana advocate Kathleen Chippi. "We've talked to people at every department that was involved in the meeting," which focused on collaboration between the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, "and we got responses like, 'Well, we can't answer that,' or something to that effect. They're not giving us a clear and concise answer. But the bottom line is, we know the meeting wasn't posted publicly, and we know from William's article that the public was asked not to come."
According to William Breathes, CDPHE spokesman Mark Salley confirmed that the meeting was not open to the public, which Chippi says violates Colorado Sunshine laws. Furthermore Chippi says the proposed system itself violates Colorado’s Amendment 20, the state’s medical marijuana law. In particular the passage that states, “Authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies shall be granted access to the information contained within the state health agency's confidential registry only for the purpose of verifying that an individual who has presented a registry identification card to a state or local law enforcement official is lawfully in possession of such card.”
No mention of tracking and sharing info with law enforcement. "For twelve years, our constitutional amendment has said something, and patients thought they were protected," Chippi said. "And for ten years, the health department has said the registry would never be put online at all. It was supposed to be one modem at the department of health. And now they're sharing information with law enforcement."
Chippi is backing a ballot initiative known as Amendment 70, which would make marijuana legalization a constitutional right in the state and would also stop Colorado resources from being used by the feds in medical marijuana crackdowns. Supporters of Amendment 70 are currently gathering signatures.
Meet the Men Leading the Charge against Marijuana Legalization in Colorado
Meet Ken Buck, the man leading Smart Colorado, a group leading the opposition against Amendment 64, a November ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for all adults in CO.
While proponents of legalization gear up for 6 months of battle (http://www.thcfinder.com/marijuana-blog/legalization/2012/06/backers-of-marijuana-legalization-in-colorado-getting-much-outofstate-support), they know the face of their opposition will be current Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck.
The folks at one of the groups backing legalization – the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol (CRMA) – sent out a press release recently that read in part:
“We welcome the news that Ken Buck has been selected to be one of the public faces of their campaign. From the day we turned in our signatures, we have been talking about the importance of reaching out to female voters ... [The women of this state] will consider the facts and make thoughtful decisions on their own. We are comforted by the fact that if as many women support Amendment 64 as opposed Ken Buck in 2010, we will cruise to victory in November.”
For their part, Smart Colorado is rolling out some big guns of their own, like Roger Sherman, the COO at CRL Associates, a Denver-based lobbying and public policy group. “The people that we’re talking to don’t want to see [marijuana regulated like alcohol] in Colorado,” Sherman said in an early-June interview with the Colorado Statesman. “There’s great legal issues around this -- it’s bad for business as far as employers are concerned and it impacts how employers deal with their employees. We’re talking about huge ramifications on our children, on our state, and just the whole impacts on health and education.”
Here we see that eloquence is not Mr. Sherman’s strong suit. It also seems that fundraising is not the strong suit of Smart Colorado, who report $15,000 in donations, compared to the almost $2 million backing Amendment 64.
It’s about time that legalization has the strong financial backing its poll numbers say it should be getting. As for Smart Colorado…well, at least their name says “smart.”
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