Marijuana groups representing thousands of patients and caregivers are suing to block Colorado's sweeping limits on how pot can be sold starting Friday.
Four groups, including the Rocky Mountain Caregivers Collective and the Cannabis Patient Alliance, prepared to file suit Thursday in Boulder County. The lawsuit seeks to void large parts of a law passed last year setting up the nation's most regulated pot marketplace.
The plaintiffs say lawmakers went too far in requiring caregivers to do more than grow pot for their patients, and that caregivers shouldn't be limited to five patients or banned from making a profit.
The lawsuit also challenges whether patient information should be available to tax regulators or law enforcement, not just the health department. Advocates say that because the constitutional amendment passed by Colorado voters in 2000 described a "confidential state registry" maintained by the health department, others in government shouldn't be able to see who is using pot.
"It's a fundamental violation of the constitution," said Kathleen Chippi, a plaintiff in the suit and president of the Patient & Caregiver Rights Litigation Project.
The lawsuit comes hours before regulations set up to comply with the 2010 law take effect July 1. The regulations also give dispensaries hundreds of pages of regulations, including mandatory video surveillance of all transactions and rules governing how marijuana can be grown and turned into edible products such as pot brownies. A second Colorado marijuana law, mostly refining the one passed last year, also takes effect Friday. That law isn't being challenged by the marijuana advocates, but they say they may challenge that one next.
Another plaintiff, Timothy Tipton of the Rocky Mountain Caregivers' Cooperative, said he's most interested in challenging the caregiver restrictions. Tipton says it's unfair to say that dispensaries can make a profit, but home growers serving small numbers can't.
There's considerable time and expense associated with this," Tipton said of growing small amounts of marijuana.
The lawsuit filed Thursday did not address new rules on dispensaries. Some advocates have vowed to challenge some of those regulations, especially a requirement that dispensaries grow 70 percent of the pot they sell.
A marijuana advocate in Colorado Springs who isn't part of the lawsuit said most commercial pot shops are going ahead with compliance and not suing. But Tanya Garduno, president of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, added that many are hoping the lawsuit prevails _ or that lawmakers loosen rules as the industry matures.
"We're hoping that as people see this isn't a criminal-riddled business the regulations will open up a little bit," Garduno said.
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