Jan. 12 2011 12:00 AM

A rally at the Capitol against the DEA’s request for medical marijuana patients’ records

Wednesday, Jan. 12 — About 30 people gathered on the east-facing steps of the Capitol today to protest the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s request for seven Lansing-area medical marijuana patients’ records.

The DEA subpoenaed the state Department of Community Health on June 4 to hand over records of medical marijuana patients and caregivers for an ongoing investigation involving seven Lansing-area residents.

The MDCH is yet to comply with the subpoena due to confidentiality provisions in the state Medical Marihuana Act.

However, department spokesman James McCurtis has said it will comply if ordered by the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids or under advice from the state attorney general.

A hearing scheduled for today at the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids was postponed due to an emergency motion filed by the Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs against the order.

Jamie Lowell, a representative for the association, said the protest today was about protecting patients’ privacy, but also against Attorney General Bill Schuette, who never filed an appeal against the DEA’s request.

“People submitted private information (to the state) expecting it to be confidential,” he said outside the Capitol building. “The fact that there was no defense given to this (from Schuette) is a big problem.”

“We want an attorney general who’s going to stand up for our rights,” Lowell added. “The fact that one of his (Schuette) first actions is rolling over for the Feds is concerning.”

The appeal also says Schuette did not defend the patients’ records because he has a “biased” opinion on medical marijuana. Schuette led the opposition to the 2008 medical marijuana ballot initiative that eventually passed by 63 percent of voters.

Tom Levine, an attorney with Detroit-based Cannabis Counsel, was also at the rally.

“Protecting patient privacy is a well-established public policy,” Levine said. “I would think by (Schuette) wearing a civil hat he would quash the subpoena.”

Forrest Olsen, a 24-year-old Lansing resident was at today’s rally holding a sign that read, “The Fed Coats Are Com’n.” When he applied to be a medical marijuana patient, Olsen said it was never in the back of his mind that the federal government may want access to his records.

“The state law tells us one thing and the federal government tells us something different,” he said. “I don’t understand it.”