|Photo by LiveBloid, Wikimedia Commons|
Five medical Marijuana dispensaries in Dana Point are appealing an Orange County Superior Court ruling ordering them to turn over records -- including client lists -- to the city as part of an investigation into dispensary operations.
"I think everyone kind of had the same idea about appealing the order for the reason of protecting third-party names and some of the privileged items that we believe shouldn't be disclosed," attorney Lee Petros, representing the Point Alternative Care dispensary, told the Orange County Register
All five pot dispensaries in Dana Point must hand over their records to the city by Dec. 7, according to a ruling by Judge Glenda Sanders. Sanders also ordered the disclosure of member names to be limited to city attorneys, a financial consultant retained for advice in the investigation, and the assistant city manager, "who will oversee and assist the consultant in his analysis," according to the Register.
Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana
Policy Project hopes the appeal succeeds. "For city officials to be
allowed to receive confidential medical information for what appears to
be a fishing expedition would be an extremely dangerous precedent,"
Mirken told SF Weekly. "It would be nice if patients could have complete trust in their local officials, but they don't, and for good reason."
for the Marijuana dispensaries have strenuously objected to releasing
member names, saying that the city's request violates medical and
financial privacy rights of members, the Fifth Amendment's protection
against self-incrimination, and the First Amendment protection of
freedom of association.
while appealing Sanders' decision to the 4th District Court of Appeals,
are also asking the judge to stay her order pending the outcome of the
Attorneys for the city and for the
dispensaries will be in Sanders' courtroom in Santa Ana on Monday, when
the judge is expected to rule on whether to set a hearing date before
the Dec. 7 deadline to consider staying her order.
have said there's no legal precedent for the Dana Point case. Both the
city of Dana Point and the Marijuana dispensaries seem to be floating through uncharted legal territory.
The city claims it
needs the names of patients to verify whether the dispensaries are
operating within the law. However, there's little or no legal guidance regarding the release of patient names from pot dispensaries.
Petros said he's concerned that even the limited release of patient
names won't stop the city from returning to court, seeking to broaden
the use of patient names and records.
Alison Adams, attorney for a dispensary called Holistic Health, said
she was concerned that the city would turn around and use the names in
order to prosecute future cases against individuals. "I am now
horrified that [the city] may attempt to use this information to put a
frontal attack on medical Marijuana," Adams said during court
proceedings. "Producing any names is...overboard."