Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

Colorado’s Marijuana Law: Downsides to the Initial High

New York Times: “Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still raging.”

“Law enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states flirting with loosening marijuana laws.”

“Despite [some tragic stories,] there is scant hard data. Because of the lag in reporting many health statistics, it may take years to know legal marijuana’s effect — if any — on teenage drug use, school expulsions or the number of fatal car crashes.”

“The argument is being waged with fervor because both sides say Colorado’s successes and failures with regulating marijuana will shape perceptions of legalization for voters considering similar measures in other states and for leery federal law enforcement officials.”

Although “criminal marijuana cases in Colorado plunged by 65 percent in 2013 … Many of Colorado’s starkest problems with legal marijuana stem from pot-infused cookies, chocolates and other surprisingly potent edible treats that are especially popular with tourists and casual marijuana users.”

  • Buford2k11

    what downside??? the only thing that has really changed is the legal stuff…all of the panic is so so uh wrong…weed has been here for a long time…it just has been underground and because of the “taint” of smoking weed, no one talks openly about their experiences…we all know the “truth” but as in all “Wars”, truth is the first casualty….the only downside is that those who really should smoke it don’t…and those who whine about it should stfu…

  • onebrownmouse

    EXCEPT POT IS NOT LEGAL IN Colorado…so says the Attorney general a few weeks ago in the state amicus brief in Coats v. Dish Network.

    “The states position is that the government of Colorado and the individual governmental officials implementing the medical marijuana program are engaged in abetting violations of federal drug laws,”PCRLP attorney Andrew Reid, Springer and Steinberg.

    After 14 years with medical marijuana in the state Constitution, the Colorado
    Attorney General’s Office has finally clarified its position/interpretation on/of Section 14 (A20). The office that “oversees, represents and defends the legal interests of the people of the State of Colorado and its sovereignty” has come out against patient and caregiver “rights”and is upholding federal law over the state Constitution in the first and only medical marijuana case being heard by the Colorado Supreme Court.

    Brandon Coats, a paralyzed medical marijuana patient, was fired from his job at
    Dish Network after testing positive for THC on a random drug screening. Coats,through his attorney Michael Evans, argued that since he was a legal medical marijuana patient under the Colorado Constitution, his offduty use of medical marijuana was covered under the “Colorado Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute” (CLODAS). Therefore Dish Network could not legally fire him.

    The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Coats’ use of medical marijuana is not covered by CLODAS, even though medical marijuana is protected in the state Constitution, because marijuana is illegal under federal law.

    Some of the (more offensive) language in the states amicus brief in Coats v.
    DISH Network for consideration in the Colorado Supreme Court:

    “Contrary to popular perception, Colorado has not simply legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes.Instead, its citizens have adopted narrowly drawn constitutional amendments that decriminalize small amounts of marijuanafor patients with a debilitating medical condition, at issue in this case, or for recreational use by adults over the age of 21.” …

    “… invokingthe language of “rights” would only lead to confusion as citizens and jurists alike may misunderstand both the nature of the right and the scrutiny associated with the right.”

    Apparently the AG believes“citizens and jurists” will be confused if the Colorado
    Supreme Court overturns the lower court ruling and confirms patients and caregivers have fundamental“rights”.

    “The State of Colorado contends there is no reason in this case to address the
    question of describing the medical use of marijuana as a “right” under the state constitution. Resolving this case does not require this Court to reach the question of what type of a right, if any,protects medical marijuana patients and caregivers. As a matter of statutory interpretation the undeniable and unambiguous illegality of marijuana under federal law answers the question in this case.”…

    “If the Court chooses to describe the use of marijuana as a “right,” however, the Court should act with caution…. To the extent any level of review is appropriate, it should be highly deferential as to capture the spirit of the voters who enacted a specific, criminal-law focused provision. Any other result would undermine the need for the executive branch and the General Assembly to regulate and legislate in this complicated and fluid policy arena.” …

    “If the People want to enact a broadly applicable “right’ to use marijuana as the dissent in Beinor declared,then a new amendment to the Colorado Constitution should be required.”

    Considering The Attorney Generals job is to represent/defend the people of Colorado and sovereignty, one has to wonder:

    1. How many “citizens and jurists” believe the state needs“a new amendment to the Colorado Constitution” in order to (really)legalize medical marijuana?

    2. How many “citizens and jurists” agree that the Colorado Supreme Court “invoking the language of “rights” would only lead to confusion” for “citizens and jurists”?

    3. How many agree “….there is no reason in this case to address the question
    of describing the medical use of marijuana as a “right” under the state constitution.”

    4. How many agree the AG should be arguing for federal laws over the state constitution?

    5. Does the AG support the arrest of Governor Hickenlooper, the Board of
    Health, the General Assembly, the DoR and other local government
    employees?

    6. How many Coloradans feel like they are being represented and/or defended by the AG?

    7. And food for thought: If the AG believes MMJ patients don’t have “rights”, what is the AG’s position on A64?

    Fortunately the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project (PCRLP) had
    standing and the Supreme Court accepted our amicus brief in Coats v. Dish Network back on April 16th. The PCRLP argues on behalf of fundamental patient and caregiver rights and argues federal law does not trump state MMJ laws, specifically. The PCRLP believes the U.S. Congress never intended to ban medical marijuana when they listed marijuana in the federal CSA in 1970.

    State law trumps IF there is no federal law that addresses the issue. The feds are adamant that cannabis has no medical use, so the feds have no laws that address medical marijuana, specifically. Under the CSA itself, the feds have 1 year with a onetime only 6 month extension to PROVE to “we the people” that any substance put on Schedule meets ALL of the requirements of that schedule.

    Cannabis was put in Schedule I temporarily (while the feds did the research-the
    Shafer Commission). When the Commission released its final report on marijuana in 1972, they found that marijuana was safe and recommended that it be decriminalized altogether. Nixon chose to ignore those findings and instead officially started the longest-running war in U.S. history, the War on Drugs.

    Andrew Reid, of Springer and Steinberg, writes:“…although over 40 years have passed since it was first listed neither the United States Supreme Court, this Court, nor any other high court has as yet engaged in a proper and full
    Preemption Doctrine analysis to determine whether the Congress, the drafters of the federal CSA, ever intended to include state recognized medical uses of marijuana in the CSA’s Schedule I listing of marijuana, or whether the listing was intended to be limited to non-medical uses.”

    If the Supreme Court agrees with the lower courts and the state AG that no
    one has any “rights” because federal law trumps, Reid elaborates: “Given
    that the State of Colorado runs an established MMJ program, including
    licensing and taxing, its position in its amicus brief is outrageous. Its position is that the government of Colorado and the individual governmental officials are engaged in abetting violations of federal drug laws. The Colorado Attorney General is essentially subjecting all state officials who participate in the MMJ program to federal prosecution for violations of federal felony drug laws.”

    Reid contends that patients will be harmed if the Court of Appeals ruling in
    the Coats case “that federal CSA criminalization of marijuana covers the lawful use and possession of medical marijuana under state law” is allowed to stand. Reid maintains that dozens of “occupations, occupational licenses, permits (guns included),and state benefits” will be denied to thousands of legal medical marijuana patients because “their possession and consumption of their medication” would be considered illegal.

    Both the states’ brief and the PCRLP brief can be found: cannabislawsuits.com

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