The state Supreme Court has declined to hear a case raising the key question underlying medical-marijuana law in Colorado: Does the state constitution guarantee a right to pot? By declining to take up the case, the Supreme Court effectively has endorsed the decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, which decided last year that medical-marijuana patients have no right to use cannabis. Instead, the Court of Appeals concluded, the constitution only protects legal patients from criminal punishment for their marijuana use. The decision is devastating to medical-marijuana activists who had hoped the Supreme Court would affirm a right to marijuana. “It was a very sad day for the patients in Colorado,” activist Kathleen Chippi said. “I’m quite honestly speechless.” But the decision was a win for the Colorado attorney general’s office, which has long said that Amendment 20 — the medical-marijuana constitutional provision — only creates exemptions to criminal law. “It does not create a constitutional right to consume marijuana,” Attorney General John Suthers said. “The advocates, I think, have missed that over time.”
The case — Beinor vs. Industrial Claim Appeals Office and Service Group Inc. — involved a medical-marijuana patient fired from his job after testing positive for pot, even though there was no evidence he was impaired at work. Beinor said he should be eligible for unemployment benefits because his marijuana use was protected under the state’s constitution. On the same day last week that the Supreme Court declined to hear Beinor’s case, it also declined to hear the case of a man whom the Court of Appeals ruled should not be allowed to use medical marijuana while on probation because marijuana is illegal federally. The two denials, activists say, imply that medical-marijuana patients have only limited protections under Colorado law. The rulings suggest that not only can patients be fired for medical-marijuana use but that they could be denied gun permits, be kicked out of housing or lose custody of their children in child-welfare cases. “The impact is overwhelming,” Chippi said. “I view it as callous and cold-hearted,” said Brian Vicente, executive director of the marijuana-advocacy group Sensible Colorado. The Supreme Court’s decisions also mean that state laws limiting medical-marijuana caregivers or allowing communities to ban dispensaries likely will stand.
via : denverpost
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