At least one Boulder County resident is planning to challenge state laws regulating the medical marijuana industry in court this month, and dispensaries are being asked to chip in to fund the effort.
Kathleen Chippi, a Nederland resident and former dispensary owner, says that within the next week, she plans to file a constitutional challenge to legislation such as HB 1284, which sets up strict regulations and surveillance systems for dispensaries and other medical marijuana operations in the state. Chippi and other advocates say the new laws go too far and violate patients’ rights secured under Amendment 20 of the Colorado Constitution, which was passed by the state’s voters in 2000.
“I’m just asking that we abide by the Constitution,” Chippi says. “That’s not radical.”
Chippi says that she still needs to raise about $10,000 to cover her legal costs, but she is determined to file the legal challenge through her attorney, Andrew Reid, even if she doesn’t have the funds before the July 1 deadline.
“There’s no way we’re not filing,” she says. “There’s no way we’ve worked on this for a year and not going to file. … It’s on behalf of everyone in the state.”
Chippi and Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, which is helping support the legal challenge, say they have grown tired of medical marijuana attorneys like Rob Corry who they say have been dragging their feet after pledging to file similar lawsuits.
“He’s been telling us this for over a year now,” Kriho says of Corry. “We don’t need more talk. We need action.”
Corry told Boulder Weekly that he plans to file his own challenge soon, but has been hoping to put together a legal team to do so.
“It would be preferable if all lawyers working on a legal challenge to this legislation could combine forces,” Corry says, “and I have reached out to Andrew Reid in this regard and hope to meet with him shortly.”
Kriho says she has been getting an increasing number of calls from dispensary owners who are frustrated in their attempts to adhere to the stringent and costly monitoring and security systems they must set up by July 1 under the new state laws and regulations.
“They’re trying to jump through the hoops and are now at the end of their ropes,” she says.
Jason Lauve, the medical marijuana patient who was acquitted by a jury in a high-profile August 2009 case after being prosecuted for possessing more marijuana than allowed under Amendment 20, has been circulating an email raising funds for a constitutional challenge to the state’s medical marijuana laws as well. He told Boulder Weekly Thursday that he is working in tandem with Chippi to collect donations. Lauve says in his email that the challenge will be narrowly focused on a few specific areas, including patient privacy, allowing doctors into medical marijuana centers, the five patient-per-caregiver limit, caregiver registration and local bans/regulations.
Among Kriho’s concerns are the radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that will be used to track medical marijuana from seed to sale, using readers similar to those used to inventory merchandise in stores. Kriho says she is concerned that if the signal from those RFID tags is not encrypted, someone could buy a reader and scan for marijuana outside warehouses or patients’ homes and “see what RFID tags you have in your medicine cabinet.”
Reid represented Chippi in her unsuccessful attempt in January to convince the Colorado Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the state’s medical marijuana laws. Reid, who describes himself as a constitutional lawyer — not a medical marijuana attorney or legalization crusader — confirmed that he still represents Chippi and has another active lawsuit involving Douglas County dispensaries in which he is challenging the constitutionality of the state’s laws and regulations.
For more information on Chippi’s effort, see CannabisLawsuits.com.