Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project Defend the Registry: Protect Patient Privacy

Defending the Colorado Constitution

First Medical Marijuana Federal Preemption Challenge

MMJ patients need help to pay for the precedent setting litigation we presently have in front of the Colorado Supreme Court that will impact everyone’s relationship with cannabis.

Click here to read the PCRLP Amicus Brief
in the case of Coats v. Dish Network

1. For the first time ever a high court will consider and RULE on IF federal law (Controlled Substances Act, CSA) preempts state medical marijuana laws, in this case the Colorado Constitution.

Federal premeption- The invalidation of US state laws that conflict with federal laws.

2. For the first time in Colorado, the Colorado Supreme Court will decide if medical marijuana patients have rights, not merely privileges.

Both issues will have national impact. The High Court intends to rule sometime in June-July 2014.

Colorado Supreme Court to Review Brandon Coats Firing over Medical Marijuana

by John Ingold, Denver Post 1-27-14

"In a move that could have major impacts for how employers treat marijuana use by workers, the Colordo Supreme Court on Monday announced it would review the case of a fired medical marijuana patient.

The patient, a quadriplegic man named Brandon Coats, lost his job for using marijuana off the clock. But in taking up the case the Supreme Court announced it would look at not just whether a special Colorado law that protects legal off the clock activities covers marijuana. For the first time, the court announced it will also look at whetether Colorado's constitution give medical marijuan patients a right to cannabis.

Colorados Court of Appeals has previously ruled that patients don't have a right to use marijuana and that employers can fire employee's over any marijuana use....

Dish Network said the company policy prohibits employees from using marijauna, even if it is legal under Colorado Law and done on off duty. The Colorado Court of Appeals unheld Coats' firing in a divided decision last April, reasoning that things that are illegal under federal law-like marijuana-can't be considered 'lawful'."

The PCRLP cannot/has not hindered this ruling with our amicus. Without it patients lose their chance to even argue they have rights before bad case law is set.

Amicus curiae-Latin, a friend of the court brief. A way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal affects of a court decission will not depend soley on the parties directly involved in the case. Amicus brings new perspective into an existing case. It's acceptance lies soley on the discretion court. The PCRLP amicus has been accepted by the court.

All monies collected will go towards legal expenses for the PCRLP.

More on both issues:

Federal Preemption: The feds have spent the last 18 years since Prop 215 passed telling everyone that the CSA trumps state MMJ programs, yet there is no case law that confirms that. Raich confirmed the feds trump on inter-state commerce, not medical marijuana. Pro cannabis attorneys, drug 'reform' groups, law enforcement and government offices across the country have conceded that the feds trump and patients have no rights. The Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project (PCRLP) believes differently.

On Patient Rights: This will be the third time this issue has been brought to the CO Supreme Court by the PCRLP since the passage of HB10-1284 gutted Colorado's Constitutional patient/caregiver medical marijuana model passed in 2000.

Implications: If the court rules patients have rights and federal law does not trump state MMJ rights (what the PCRLP is hoping for which would mean they would overturned the lower court rulings in Coats v Dish) then people who use medical marijuana:

  • Will not lose their children in custody battles over cannabis cultivation or use.
  • Will not be charged with neglect or abuse over cultivation, possession, use.
  • Will not lose their second amendment rights.
  • Will not be denied organ transplants.
  • Will not lose their jobs for off work use.
  • Will not violate/lose the occupational licenses issued by the state for use of medicinal cannabis. DORA says 70% of workers in Colorado have occupational licenses.
  • Will not lose government aid.
  • Will not be denied student loans.
  • Will not lose government housing.
  • Will not lose the right to adopt children.
  • Will not lose insurance.
  • Will not lose un-employment benefits.
  • Will not lose their housing.
  • Will not be raided by the feds.
  • Will not have property seized by the feds.
  • Patients and caregivers:
  • Will be able dispense cannabis in a storefront.
  • Will be able to decide their plant counts themselves.
  • Will be able to use cannabis while on probation.
  • Will be able to bank with cannabis money.

If the court agrees with the lower courts and rules patients do not have rights and federal law does preempt then everything above will still be a risk for medical patients, except patients and caregivers deciding their own plant count under state law, which is Constitutional but still needs to be addressed by a high court now that the CDPHE believes they have a right to limit plants (limit medicine quantities) and any plant count would remain at risk from the feds.

If the court rules patients have rights but federal law preempts, than anything related to federal aid, federal housing, banking, student loans, organ transplants or cultivation/possession/use will still be at risk.

In our opinion, the court will most likely not rule against patient rights and against federal preemption—which would mean the patients still have all risks above at a state level, but not at a federal level.

Kathleen Chippi, the driving force behind PCRLP



Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project
P.O. Box 1794, Nederland, CO 80466
Phone: 1-888-328-4367

We support these organizations:

Cannabis Trade Council
Legalize Marijuana 2012 Colorado
Free Marc Emery
Cannabis Therapy Institute