Earlier today, we shared the thoughts of attorney Danyel Joffe about the medical marijuana business license application. Joffe has problems with the application, which must be filed by Sunday -- but dispensary owner Kathleen Chippi goes much further. She's refusing to file the form, which she regards as "un-American, unconstitutional and downright evil."
Chippi made news in May, when an audio clip of her claiming that 11,000 children go missing in Colorado each year was repeatedly misidentified as Senator Joyce Foster by KHOW's Peter Boyles. The statistic may seem absurdly high, but a 2008 press release from Governor Bill Ritter's office that's included in the post linked above actually claims that nearly 14,000 Colorado children are reported missing per annum.
However, Chippi is best known in the MMJ community as the owner of One Brown Mouse/Cannabis Healing Arts, a Nederland dispensary opened in mid-2009 that earned a rave review from Westword medical marijuana critic The Wildflower Seed this past February.
Because she won't file the license application, Chippi will not be able to operate the dispensary as its owner beyond Sunday. "I can't stay open," she says, "or they're going to come and arrest me. That's the promise. They've been sending out e-mails with big red type saying, 'If you're open on August 2, you're facing criminal prosecution.'"
But that fact isn't enough to make her sign the form -- and it's not because she's been convicted of felonies that would disqualify her from licensure under the new regulatory measures.
"I have a completely clean record," she says. "I'm 42, and I don't even have a speeding ticket."
Among her biggest issues with the application are passages that grant power of attorney to the state, and which allow the state to widely disseminate data about applicants.
"It says they have the right to provide your private information to any state, the U.S. federal government and any foreign country," Chippi says -- and she's right.
At a recent Department of Revenue meeting staged to help businesspersons complete the application, Chippi notes that "they assured everyone the language was in there just to scare away the people who shouldn't be involved -- that they weren't going to implement it. But if they don't intend on implementing it, that language shouldn't be in there."
For Chippi, the danger in signing the form lies in the conflict between the law in Colorado, where an amendment to legalize medical marijuana has been in the state constitution since 2001, and the federal government, which continues to treat all cannabis as an illegal substance with no authorized medical use. She fears the Drug Enforcement Administration might decide to come down on her and other entrepreneurs despite a 2009 Justice Department memo telling agents not to use their resources pursuing individuals who are operating legally in their particular state.
If DEA agents decided to go rogue, she'd be in enormous jeopardy.
"The way I've operated is by purchasing overflow cannabis from patients and caregivers they had and redispensed it to other patients," she explains. "But now, the law says you have to grow 70 percent of the stock for your dispensary." Since her customer base stands at 2,200 patients, "that clearly takes me over 12,000 plants. And that would get me twenty years to life from the federal government."
In her view, "no American has been asked what we're being asked in this application. Let's remember, this isn't a license. It's just the application. And it still asks you to give up all your state and federal rights to privacy, to give up your rights under the Fourth and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and to sign over your power of attorney to the Department of Revenue."
If all that's true, why are other people signing the application? "They're in a catch-22," Chippi says. "They've invested their entire lives into this business. They can't afford not to sign."
As for Chippi, she declines to comment about what will happen with One Brown Mouse/Cannabis Healing Arts. But she plans to continue working in the medical marijuana industry -- just not as a dispensary owner.
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"I'd rather lose my business," she says, "than lose both my business and my freedom."
Look below to read more of Chippi's thoughts on the subject, shared earlier in a blog post comment:
MANY OF US ALREADY 'contributed' THOUSANDS of dollars to numerous attorneys on retainer, for pro-active protection. We don't even get phone calls returned. Too busy collecting more cash to worry about defending us (caregivers), (patients) or the CO Constitution.
I go to the hearings, the meetings, read the papers, watch the news, and talk to patients all day long. How has this been allowed to precede?
There are two VERY CLEAR GOALS of our legislature that NEVER get addressed by ANY of these sell out attorneys or any of the sell out media.
#1. Senator Joyce Foster (D, district 35), chair woman of the last committee that UNANIMOUSLY PASSED 1284, said ON RECORD "I probably shouldn't word it this way, But I can't think of a better way to say it....but how do we put the genie back in the bottle?" while questioning law enforcement.
#2. Senator Chris Romer (D) publicly promised to close 80% of dispensaries down, over and over again.
The goal is to crush Article 18, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution, passed by the CO voters in 2000 as Amendment 20. Our vote means NOTHING to them.
When senators take their oath they are taking an oath to uphold and defend the language of the CO Constitution. Here we have 2 CO senators publicly stomping on our constitution, our most protected RIGHTS. They should have been immediately IMPEACHED! Everyone who voted to pass 1284 and 109 MUST be voted OUT. Good f#cking riddance.
As far as the attorneys. I went to the last mmj business alliance meeting in Lodo a few weeks ago where 5 attorneys answered questions from over 150 owners. We the people have been so dumbed down every question was "...How do I try to comply with?..." I wanted to scream.
Why do any of us care about complying to illegal language that stomps on our constitutional rights? And the attorneys just kept telling people how to comply...."get it filled out and mailed in by Aug 1 or you lost your chance to be a medical marijuana center (MMC)" an entity conveniently NOT PROTECTED by the CO Constitution. If owners/caregivers were currently breaking the law, they would be in jail. They had to create this language to make people new criminals. Legal for the last 10 years, illegal Aug. 2 if you didn't sign away your life by applying with an illegal application.
I only had one question and I have asked it to numerous attorneys who have read the application privately at this meeting and since the meeting. It is:
"If the state of CO came to you, being a licensed attorney, and said you needed to fill out this exact application in order to remain an attorney, would you fill this out?" EVERY RESPONSE was "No' or "Not over my dead body".
Yet they will sit there and tell currently protected caregivers over and over to fill it out to remain a legal business owner.
Looks like many of us have cases against our current attorneys.
This application incriminates anyone who signs it for conspiracy to grow and sell large amounts of cannabis (mandated by the state), yet 1 plant is still a federal crime. And conveniently, the CO Dept of Rev is your power of attorney -- kiss your life, including your kids, goodbye. Rights, you don't have any left -- you signed them ALL away.
Gov. Bill Ritter calls it a privilege.