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HB 12-1358 Letter to Senate

HB 12-1358 Letter to Senate

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Published by: Nick on May 08, 2012
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05/08/2012

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VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL May 7, 2012 Colorado State Senators Colorado State Capitol Denver, Colorado 80202 Re: Opposition

to House Bill 12—1358 “Concerning Funding Issues Related to Medical Marijuana, and in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation”

Dear Senators: This law firm represents numerous Colorado Medical Marijuana patients. We have brought successful lawsuits against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”) to protect patient rights and have successfully defended many individuals charged with criminal offenses related to Medical Marijuana. Today, we provided Notice of a Class Action Lawsuit to Attorney General John W. Suthers concerning the over-collection of fees from Colorado residents applying to the State of Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry, administered by the CDPHE. (Letter Attached.) Our clients and we oppose House Bill 12-1358. The introduction and serious consideration of this legislation, which would transfer $9,700,000 from the Medical Marijuana Registry to other objectives, is strong evidence that the CDPHE has overcollected at least $9,700,000 for the Medical Marijuana Registry. The Colorado Constitution, Article XVIII § 14(3)(i) provides that CDPHE may collect only those reasonable fees “to pay for any direct or indirect administrative costs associated with its role in this program.” (Emphasis added.) Our proposed Class Action seeks a refund of these funds to Colorado’s Medical Marijuana patients who overpaid them since 2001. H.B. 12-1358 proposes to transfer $7,700,000 to the Department of Revenue’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (“MMED”), which licenses and regulates for-

profit Medical Marijuana Centers, Cultivation Operations, and Infused Products Manufacturers as created by the Legislature in H.B. 10-1284, which was sold to the community and public in 2010 as a “self-funding” agency. MMED’s purpose and functions (created in 2010) are distinct and independent of CDPHE’s Medical Marijuana Registry (created ten years earlier in 2001), which does nothing to regulate for-profit Centers and retail outlets. In addition to this problem, H.B. 12-1358 would create a law enforcement database of patients that may violate the confidentiality protections in the Colorado Constitution, Article XVIII § 14 and C.R.S. § 18-18-406.3, which makes it a misdemeanor crime for any person, including the CDPHE, to disclose patient information without a written waiver from the patient. The Colorado Constitution, Article XVIII § 14(3)(a) permits “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.” (Emphasis added.) If this proposed database is searchable by name rather than Registry Card Number, then confidentiality would be violated. Alternatively, if the database is accessible only after a patient has presented the Registry Card with a unique number, then confidentiality would be preserved. The bill does not specify whether the database would be searchable by name, and consequently provides no confidentiality protection. The bill should be amended to eliminate the transfer of funds away from the CDPHE Medical Marijuana Registry, and to ensure the protection of patient confidentiality. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to call me at 303-634-2244 or email at Robert.Corry@comcast.net. Thank you very much for your consideration. Sincerely,

Travis B. Simpson Attorneys at Law

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