Suppressed Lawsuit Accuses Colorado Of Secretly Policing MMJ Doctors

By Benjie Cooper

IG: @nuglifenews

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A lawsuit filed against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) by nine doctors who recommend medical cannabis in the state was completely hidden from public view by a judge’s order during a three-year court battle but has recently surfaced in an investigation by the Denver Post.

While no specific laws on the suppression of criminal cases, there is court precedence over the hiding of civil cases which is supposed to be in rare instances and only temporary.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Denver District Court in March 2015, alleges that Colorado regulators illegally created a policy in secret to quietly monitor marijuana doctors.

The 2014 policy outlined three reasons that the Health Department could cite to have the Medical Board investigate a physician: keeping a client list that is comprised mostly of individuals under the age of thirty, having more than 3,251 patients, or recommending that a patient grow more than twenty-four plants without proving medical necessity.

The policy was a response to an audit in 2013 that found the CDPHE was only loosely regulating physicians and caregivers.

But the doctors, who are all listed as ‘John Doe’ under the judge’s anonymity protection order, allege that the state’s process to create the policy was secretive, lacked public input, and violated Colorado’s open meeting laws.

“There is no justification for concealing the entire file of a case with such a high degree of public interest,” University of Florida’s director of The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, Frank LoMonte told the Post. “This is more egregious because you have a case that implicates the behavior of a government agency.”

The lawsuit is one of thousands of hidden cases that have turned up in the Post’s investigation.

On July 26, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the state did not break any laws when they created the policy. Lawyers for the nine physicians plan to appeal the ruling.

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