Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a court brief Thursday in support of patient privacy rights in the federal case of U.S. v. Michigan Department of Community Health.
Last June, the Drug Enforcement Administration subpoenaed the medical records of seven Lansing, Mich.-area registered caregivers as part of an investigation believed to be related to a Nov. 30 raid in Okemos, Mich. The health department has said that it would submit the patients’ records to the DEA if a judge ordered it.
“Patient privacy is an important ethical and public health issue of our time, regardless of whether patients benefit from the use of medical marijuana,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, author of the friend-of-the-court brief, in a statement. “We must do everything we can to protect that right to privacy, especially for medical marijuana patients who remain vulnerable due to an outdated federal law.”
U.S. District Court Judge Gordon J. Quist postponed a Jan. 12 hearing in the case in order to allow briefs from the Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs (MACC), a group of more than 40 Michigan patients and providers. Cannabis Patients United (CPU) also filed an amicus brief on Tuesday, according to ASA.
A hearing on the briefs is scheduled for Feb. 1 at the federal courthouse in Grand Rapids.
While the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008 makes it a misdemeanor to disclose confidential information, the state’s attorney general has invoked the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution as a reason to comply with the subpoena. An assistant attorney general wrote in a court filing that the health department’s employees and agents would be immune from liability for providing confidential information if there is a valid court order.