Friday, August 26, 2011

Marijuana, lies and videotape: State apparently holds unpublicized meetings

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 2:49 PM

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It's hard to tell exactly what compels a person to lie to your face, and then walk away in the middle of being asked a question, but that's exactly what a woman with the Colorado Department of Public Safety did to marijuana activists in Denver on Wednesday, according to a video posted on YouTube by Robert Chase of the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers.

The whole problem started with allegations from the Cannabis Therapy Institute that the Marijuana Per Se workgroup — a state committee made up of advocates, law enforcement and lawyers created to make a recommendation on the legal limit of marijuana in a driver's blood — had conducted six meetings basically in secret, in apparent violation of Colorado's Sunshine Law. (As first reported by Westword.)

"Marijuana criminal defense attorney Sean McAllister (Breckenridge, CO) is the co-chair of the Marijuana Per Se Workgroup," Laura Kriho, of CTI, writes in a release. "He has refused to investigate past violations of the Open Meetings Laws by his committee. He has told activists that if they want the group to comply with the Open Meetings Laws, they need to hire a lawyer and take the group to court."

The group consists of: Arapahoe County sheriff Grayson Robinson, Christine Flavia with the Division of Behavorial Health, Heather Garwood with the Colorado Judicial Department, Rod Walker with the Colorado Springs Police Department, addiction specialist Laura Spicer, McAllister, 5th Judicial District district attorney Mark Hurlbert and Mike Elliott, the previous leader of the push to not ban medical marijuana in El Paso County.

All of this prompted Chase, Kriho and Kathleen Chippi of the Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project to arrive at the group's next planned meeting and protest, on camera, the group's lack of openness. (They found out about the meeting after e-mailing with McAllister.) Then they found out the meeting had been cancelled; why it had been cancelled, though, seemed up for debate.

Starting at 3:15 in the video:

Kriho: Why was the meeting cancelled?
First woman: I don't know. They didn't tell me.
Chase: Well, it's because it was an illegal meeting, as we well know, but ...
Second woman walks up.
Second woman: So, they're all attending a funeral. And that's why the meeting was cancelled. (Pointing at the camera.) Is that running? ... No one is here. I'm trying to tell you that. It's for a funeral.
Later.
Chase: Unless this funeral was just concluded this morning, it seems a little absurd. Because I was in communication with ...
Second woman walks off.

Later, Kim English, research director for the Division of Criminal Justice says to Chase (7:30) that "the meeting was cancelled because we wanted to make sure that people would be informed of the next meeting," confirming to the group that previous individual's funeral reasoning "was misinformation."

"It's more than that," Chase replied. "It's a lie."

Look for more in next week's Independent.

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