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Today, Chief Denver District Court Judge Larry Naves struck down the State Board of Health's attempt to redefine a medical marijuana "caregiver."

Although the citizens of Colorado clearly expressed their intent that marijuana be available to patients through caregivers, the State is attempting to block access through bureaucratic rulings.

A Denver District Court judge rebuked the state board of health today for changing rules about medical marijuana without providing adequate notice to patients.

In his ruling, Chief Denver District Court Judge Larry Naves struck down the state board's actions from a meeting earlier this month. At that telephone conference meeting the board repealed the definition of medical-marijuana "caregiver", casting the burgeoning industry into uncertainty —— all without taking public testimony. Naves also ordered the state to pay the attorneys' fees of medical-marijuana advocates, who filed a motion saying they were wrongly blocked from participating in the hearing.

"How is it a fair hearing?" Naves hammered the state's attorney during her arguments.

I commend Judge Naves on his courage to stand up for patients' rights.

"Your honor," Holton responded, "I think it's important to keep in mind that this is a temporary rule."

"It's not temporary," Naves replied, "for Mr. LaGoy."

It is always a great thing to see a human face on justice.

I assume that the State will continue to try to limit access to medical marijuana. Although the people have passed two referendums in Denver, decriminalizing possession of under 1 oz of marijuana, and making marijuana the lowest priority for the police, arrests have continued to rise.

It is ironic, if that is the word for it, that Mayor John Hickenlooper has made his money manufacturing and distributing the most dangerous and widely abused drug in America through his bar and brew pub ownership. I hope that the reason for continued enforcement, against the wishes of the citizenry, is not because our good mayor would like stifle competition. (This is a snark, "The Hick" is a great mayor).

"The voters in Denver overwhelmingly don't want to see marijuana be illegal," he said, referring both to the original 2000 vote that legalized medical marijuana in the state, and the 2005 and 2007 Denver ballot measures legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and setting up the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel. "A lot of the smartest people we know have great concerns about suddenly removing all limits. That's what the issue is going to distill down to. What are the appropriate limits?"

There is a movement underfoot in Denver to reduce the marijuana ticket to $1, making it unprofitable for the city to continue to pursue enforcement.

I am going to assume that if access to medical marijuana is going to be restricted though bureaucratic means, such as through zoning ordinances, or through city laws banning dispensaries, we will see additional referendums, which will clearly pass with the voters, who have been unequivocal in their support for medical marijuana patients' rights.

Originally posted to shmuelman on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 01:54 PM PST.

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