Category: Drug laws

Colorado Supreme Court agrees to hear case involving paraplegic man who was fired for using medical marijuana.

| January 29, 2014 | Reply

There is some good news for Brandon Coats. He is a paraplegic man who had excellent job reviews as a customer service at DISH Network in Denver. He was a properly registered user of medical marijuana, which provided relief from the considerable pain he suffered. His employer fired him following a random drug testing, finding THC in his blood. He never used marijuana on the job and he was never under the influence on the job. Colorado attorney Michael Evans has represented Brandon Coats throughout this litigation. John Campbell and I (of Campbell Law, LLC) assisted Mr. Evans in the drafting the Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Colorado Supreme Court. Two days ago, we were happy to learn that the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to hear this case. We will be assisting with writing the brief in the coming weeks.  Here is the Colorado Supreme Court’s  January 27, 2014 ruling.

In our Petition, we had asserted:

After prolonged treatment with various conventional, prescribed medications failed, a licensed Colorado physician recommended that Mr. Coats medically use marijuana. Mr. Coats registered and received state-approval for medical marijuana use. Thereafter, he used marijuana only in the privacy of his own home and after working hours, in compliance with Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 14. . . . Despite satisfactory job performance, an absence of work place accommodation, and lack of impairment, DISH fired Mr. Coats solely based on an unknown amount of THC found in his body, the presence of which was the result of his exclusive use of medical marijuana in the privacy of his own home after work. Colorado’s Lawful Activity Statute prohibits employers from discriminating against or terminating employees for engaging in legal off-duty conduct. Both Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 14 and § 16 permit the use of marijuana for Colorado residents like Mr. Coats.

In its recent Order, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to consider the following two issues:

Whether the Lawful Activities Statute, C.R.S. section 24-34-402.5, protects employees from discretionary discharge for lawful use of medical marijuana outside the job where the use does not affect job performance.

Whether the Medical Marijuana Amendment makes the use of medical marijuana “lawful” and confers a right to use medical marijuana to persons lawfully registered with the state.

For more information about this compelling case, see this article from the Denver Post.

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Cops and ex-cops step up to condemn the war on drugs

| May 19, 2013 | 1 Reply

Numerous cops and ex-cops have stepped up to condemn the “war on drugs.” , They go by the name LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and they are now thousands strong. Here is the mission of LEAP:

The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition.

LEAP’s goals are: (1) To educate the public, the media and policy makers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology and (2) To restore the public’s respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law enforcements involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

LEAP’s main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly growing speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate current and former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the excessive financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.

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Inside Denmark’s fixing rooms

| May 4, 2013 | Reply

Within Denmark’s fixing rooms, addicts are provided the drugs (such as heroine, methadone or cocaine) they would otherwise break laws to obtain. Nurses supervise. England is debating whether to open its own fixing rooms.

In Copenhagen’s fixing room, eight people at a time, and another four in a van parked up in the courtyard, inject, in the knowledge that they are being watched over by nurses and are taking their drugs in a clean environment using sterile needles, a dose of saline solution, a cotton bud and a pump, all provided by staff. . . . Year on year, burglaries in the wider area are down by about 3%, theft from vehicles and violence down about 5%, and possession of weapons also down. “From the police perspective, I can see the benefits,” said Orye. “It feels calmer.”

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Half of us are mentally ill

| April 12, 2013 | Reply

Almost half of Americans fall within one or more of the descriptions in the DSN5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual–5th edition). Why so many? Because, according to the Slate article titled “Abnormal is the New Normal,” we diagnose mental illness more accurately, because more of us are mentally ill and because we’ve expanded the definition of what constitutes mental illness. “Caffeine intoxication,” anyone?

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The “war on drugs” by the numbers

| April 7, 2013 | 8 Replies

Think by Numbers describes the so-called “war on drugs” with statistics. I think this government program is better described as a welfare program for those who want to believe that they are making communities safer when they are actually cranking up the price of substances that are, for the most part, comparable to substances already offered legally by Big Pharma, thereby injecting violence into communities–especially in the case of marijuana. This article is written in the form a letter to President Obama:

Every minute someone is arrested for simple drug possession in the United States. In 2011, marijuana possession arrests totaled 663,032. Despite your claims that going after recreational pot users in states where it is legal is not “a top priority”, your administration has continued to aggressively target dispensaries that are in compliance with state law. I and others have shouldered the $10 billion annual cost of arresting and incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people for the possession of marijuana. These arrests are often for small quantities for personal use. . . . What’s worse, the money you are stealing from me isn’t even having any impact on the level of illicit drug use. You are just tearing apart thousands of families for no reason. Addiction rates are at exactly the same level that they were before we spent $1.5 trillion dollars on “drug control measures”.

Do check out the graphs in the article. If you want the same conclusions from the perspective of career law enforcement officers, check out the website of “Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

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Arrest priorities

| January 21, 2013 | Reply

As of 2011, American law enforcement arrested significantly more people for possession of marijuana than for violent crime. Actions speak louder than words. Our priority is to shove hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding people into the “criminal justice” meat-grinder than to spend that money hunting down violent people (or for that matter, white collar criminals).

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Decriminalization cuts drug use in half in Portugal

| November 15, 2012 | 2 Replies

According to an article in Forbes:

Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half. . . Currently 40,000 people in Portugal are being treated for drug abuse. This is a far cheaper, far more humane way to tackle the problem. Rather than locking up 100,000 criminals, the Portuguese are working to cure 40,000 patients and fine-tuning a whole new canon of drug treatment knowledge at the same time.

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Support for legalization of marijuana is at an all time high

| November 13, 2012 | 2 Replies

According to Think Progress: “New polling released by Gallup today finds that 50 percent of Americans now support marijuana legalization, while 46 percent of Americans oppose it.”

And at LEAP, “Pro-Legalization Cops Cheer Marijuana Reform Election Results.”

Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief, had this to say: “I cannot tell you how happy I am that after forty years of the racist, destructive exercise in futility that is the war on drugs, my home state of Washington has now put us on a different path. There are people who have lost today: drug cartels, street gangs, those who profit from keeping American incarceration rates the highest in the world. For the rest of us, however, this is a win. It’s a win for taxpayers. It’s a win for police. It’s a win for all those who care about social justice. This is indeed a wonderful day.”

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Drug arrests, more than one per minute

| October 31, 2012 | 2 Replies

I just saw these stats in a new post by LEAP:

Just over one week before voters in three states will decide on ballot measures to legalize and regulate marijuana, the FBI has released a new report today showing that police in the U.S. arrest someone for marijuana every 42 seconds and that 87% of those arrests are for possession alone. A group of police, judges and other law enforcement officials advocating for the legalization and regulation of marijuana and other drugs pointed to the figures showing more than 750,000 marijuana arrests in 2011 — more than 40 years after the start of the “war on drugs” — as evidence that this is a war that can never be won.

To be clear, I’m not advocating the use of drugs. I’m criticizing the criminalization of the use of drugs. Characterizing the use of drugs to be a law enforcement issue has been a massive failure.

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