Medical marijuana: One Love benefit for Jason Beinor raises funds, hackles

Tonight, Hayter's & Co., at 1920 Blake Street, will host One Love, a benefit for the legal fund of Jason Beinor, a medical marijuana patient whose firing is at the center of a case activists hope will reach the Colorado Supreme Court. The name of the bash frosts Timothy Tipton, who's hosted events under a similar umbrella term for years. But a sponsor downplays the conflict and focuses on the stakeholders united behind the cause.

"This is the only time in the history of the medical marijuana movement in Colorado where industry groups and patient-advocacy groups have come together in support of an important issue such as this," says Rico Colibri, the man behind a nonprofit known as Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education. CARE is helping to put on the event in conjunction with the Cannabis Business Association and the Association of Cannabis Trades for Colorado; Westword is among the media partners, and is offering a $5-off coupon toward the $10 suggested donation for admission.

Colibri's argument doesn't appear to have persuaded Tipton, who sees the event's industry connection as antithetical to the spirit of the gatherings he's arranged under "One Love, People Get Ready," a handle he told us he'd used for "six, almost seven years" in a May 2010 interview. He acknowledged that he has no trademark or copyright on the phrase, which combines song titles associated with Bob Marley and Curtis Mayfield. But he still feels wronged -- a message Colibri says he transmitted in "some pretty unpleasant letters to some of the organizers."

For his part, Colibri stresses that no offense was intended. The name was chosen by Kristi Kelly, a CBA boardmember who had no knowledge that "One Love" was affiliated with another local marijuana-related event. Besides, Colibri points out that Tipton's gatherings are more commonly known as Caregiver's Cups. Indeed, Colibri is a two-time winner at past Cups, and he says the phrase "One Love" doesn't appear on either of his awards.

Be that as it may, Colibri thinks everyone in the local medical marijuana community should get behind Beinor -- and he sees tonight's gathering as the perfect opportunity to do so.

What's the case about?

Page down to get more information about the Beinor case and to see a poster about tonight's event. As we've reported, Beinor was employed by Service Group Inc. as a street sweeper on the 16th Street Mall. However, he was fired after failing a random drug test, even though he's a legal medical marijuana patient.

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​Afterward, Beinor filed for unemployment benefits, and a hearing officer eventually ruled in his favor because there was "no reliable evidence to suggest that...claimant was not eligible for a medical marijuana license" or that his use of the marijuana negatively impacted his job performance. But his employer appealed the decision, and a panel ruled in the company's favor, citing Article XVIII of the Colorado constitution, which states that an employee who tests positive during working hours for "controlled substances" that are "not medically prescribed" doesn't qualify for benefits. The Colorado Court of Appeals concurred by a 2-1 margin, with the majority finding that patients don't have carte blanche to violate firms' policies and practices.

Beinor, who represented himself in the case, doubted that the ruling would have significant repercussions. But shortly thereafter, the decision was mentioned by town attorneys while successfully defending Longmont's medical-marijuana-retail-business ban. And Kathleen Chippi, who filed challenges against HB 1284 and SB 109, the state laws put in place to regulate the MMJ industry, believes the answer to her suit submitted under the auspices of Attorney General John Suthers -- namely, that there is no fundamental right to medical marijuana in Colorado, despite a constitutional amendment permitting its use by patients -- is built upon the Beinor ruling.

That explains why Chippi talked Beinor into appealing the decision, and why her Patient Caregivers Rights Litigation Project is funding attorney Andrew Reid's attempt to bring an appeal before the Colorado Supreme Court.

Like Chippi, Colibri feels the appellate court's Beinor decision has "very broad legal implications that could affect a patient's job, unemployment benefits, occupational licenses such as being a plumber, housing, even child custody. And the ruling could also be extended to adult users of marijuana if any legalization measure passes later this year." For instance, he notes that Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which has been approved for the November ballot, doesn't address the Beinor implications, since the ruling came down after the proposal's title had been set.

"The Beinor ruling essentially stated that vague constitutional language produces no protections unless they're concisely stated," he goes on. "That means courts will interpret the language in the most conservative, plain-English meaning -- and unless a right has been concisely stated, none will be assumed to have been granted. So if legalization passes, it'll be Beinor to the masses. The whole State of Colorado could be subject to losing their job, their house, their kids. That's why it's very important that patients and adult users who support marijuana, period, understand the implications of the case and why we need to win it -- hopefully before November."

Such prospects are clear to members of the MMJ industry, Colibri believes. "These business owners are under duress for many things -- the U.S. Attorney's letters, the heavy regulations that have been placed on them. And in their defense, they're already financially strapped. But they're coming together to do what's right for patients."

Tonight's event gets underway at 6:30 p.m. and will feature music by Whiskey Tango, Buggsy Mogues and DJ Nikka T. Get more information from the poster seen here.

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana reporting 'press vape' prize at Caregivers' Cup: Top that, Pulitzers!"

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