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.
Michigan Supreme Court Says States MMJ Law Shields Patients from Prosecution
On Thursday the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state’s medical cannabis law shields patients from prosecution by state authorities.
The court said that the law showed voters’ "intent to permit both registered and unregistered patients to assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marijuana."
"That's the way we wrote it," said Karen O'Keefe, an attorney with The Marijuana Policy Project, the group that spearheaded Michigan’s medical marijuana maw in 2008.
The ruling basically states that anyone with a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana before their arrest on marijuana-related offenses can use medical marijuana as a defense, even if they are not registered with the state.
Those of you who live in Michigan or have followed the progress of their medical marijuana laws knows that a lot of patients are being helped but that oftentimes the relationship between medical cannabis providers and state law enforcement has been contentious at best.
This new ruling may only be a small distinction to some, but if you have a doctor’s recommendation in Michigan it can be a very big deal. The essence of medical marijuana laws are their function as a shield for medical marijuana patients from regular cannabis laws. While this does nothing to change federal law, medical marijuana patients will come into contact with state and local law enforcement much more often than they will see a DEA agent.
And in the end all positive steps in marijuana law reform should be celebrated. Some will say that the pace of change is slow, but so to was the pace of prohibition. Marijuana became nationally illegal in the 1930’s but it took a few decades before law enforcement started cracking heads over it.
The road back to legality will be long, but as long as progress is always made the success of the ultimate goal is inevitable.
Medical marijuana legalized in Connecticut
Florida Seniors for Medical Marijuana
In just about any poll you see on marijuana legalization, the age group least in favor of it are senior citizens. And yet, as former federal prisoner Robert Platshorn points out, they are often in the most need of it.
Platshorn served nearly 30 years in prison on federal drug charges, and since getting out four years ago, he's been promoting medical marijuana use to seniors in Florida in his “Silver Tour.” He contends that medical marijuana legalization is a done deal in Florida once seniors are on board, and that’s a likely scenario.
As with anything, the key to winning over seniors is information. Many never heard of marijuana growing up and what they found out later in life about it was likely government propaganda. And as they learn more, they begin to see the truth. They were lied to and now is there chance to learn and benefit from an amazing plant.
Everyone deserves to have the option of medical cannabis to help with their ailments. And since seniors generally have more ailments than those younger than them, it makes sense that they should be informed about this natural, non-toxic medicine that was kept from them for so long.
Veterans Told NO Again on Medical Marijuana
While many used this past Memorial Day weekend to honor our fallen soldiers and reflect on the sacrifices they made for us, the Drug Czar was busy lecturing surviving veterans about why they aren’t allowed medical marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other ailments.
The veterans’ group asked the White House specifically to "allow United States Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD."
WH Response: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/
The group put out a press release today detailing their disappointment with the White House’s response. “The White House response to our petition was very disappointing,” it read in part. “We asked for a change in policy. To have our petition answered by the drug czar, an ex-policeman, is most inappropriate given the drug czar is bound by law to ONLY discuss current law and has no power to discuss policy change with the public. Even the lowest ranking staffer at the White House or anyone from the Veterans Health Authority would have been more appropriate.
“Al Byrne, retired Naval Officer and co-founder of VMCA, was blunt in his assessment of the White House concern for injured Veterans:
“’Vets have used cannabis for PTS since the Revolutionary War. We know what we need and to be told by our President, the Commander in Chief, that he does not care about those he has sent to war by denying medicine to the wounded is unconscionable.’”
If the federal government can treat so many sick people with disregard, it’s little surprise that they have no compassion for our veterans as well.
Medical marijuana will never be fully accessible in the country without major federal policy changes. And that means a lot of political changes, in the White House and in Congress. There is still a long road to travel.
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