Marijuana activist Corey Donahue is the target of a theft and disturbing the peace warrant.
The reason: Last month, he allegedly took documents from the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division without paying for them.
In June, Donahue, who calls his marijuana advocacy organization Crazy For Justice, made thirty different open records requests to the Department of Revenue, which oversees the MMED. The requests asked the department for documents ranging from budget breakdowns to internal e-mails.
According to the Department of Revenue, personnel responded to Donahue within three days, as required by law, and informed him that they would need to extend the response time by an additional seven days -- which is also legal.
The MMED sent Donahue a follow-up letter on June 24, asking him to be more specific about his requests. For instance, the department wanted him to provide specific timelines for correspondence. If he chose not to impose such a limit, the letter said, Donahue must "agree to pay for the services of a temporary employee to research and collect these records" to be collected in total. The letter also informed Donahue that the MMED wouldn't have the records ready until July 20, due to limited staffing.
These documents weren't immediately sent to Donahue because, according to the DOR, he failed to leave a physical address at which he could be contracted. So the letters were left at the department's front desk for him to pick up.
Donahue denies this assertion, insisting that he provided an e-mail contact and accusing the MMED of purposefully withholding information from him. In contrast, he says, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment responded to similar requests in a timely manner.
In mid-July, after not hearing from the MMED, Donahue filed a complaint with the Denver District attorney's office against the division. According to sources, the DA's office forwarded a copy of the complaint to the MMED as a courtesy -- and because the document included Donahue's mailing address, staffers were finally able to send him the aforementioned response. MMED spokeswoman Julie Posthlethwait informed Donahue about this development in a July 14 e-mail.
The DA's office subsequently concluded that the MMED didn't violate Donahue's right to access open records and declined to open a criminal investigation.
Donahue acknowledges receiving the letters asking for clarification. However, he says he didn't respond to them because he felt his initial requests were clear. He says he shouldn't "have to beg for public documents."
The MMED subsequently informed Donahue that some of the documents he'd requested had been assembled, and he scheduled time on July 22 to view them. Upon his arrival, at around 4 p.m., he says he was told he'd have to pay for them if he wanted to take them home -- or he could examine them in the MMED office. But Donahue refused to pay and simply walked away with the documents.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Upon learning this morning that a warrant had been written out for his arrest, Donahue laughed. He argues that MMED violated his rights by not responding to his initial request within the extended seven-day period, and accuses the division of lying about trying to contact him.
As for stealing the documents, he says the fee should have been waived in the first place because the information was for "research." He asks: "Why should I have to accommodate them when they have already not already accommodated me and violated the law?"
Donahue doesn't plan to turn himself in yet. Instead, he's dedicated to "dragging it out so the people can see what is going on."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana legalization: Crazy For Justice's draft initiative proposes making 4/20 a state holiday."