LONGMONT — Even for a roomful of people in the nascent medical marijuana industry, what Larry Hill was proposing was a little unusual.
Standing before a meeting of cannabis dispensary owners here last week, Hill said the time has come to form a trade association.
"People, let's help ourselves," said Hill, who operates The Apothecary dispensary in Longmont. "It's time we become the shining light in the community, so that people aren't afraid of us anymore."
Across the state — as the number of medical marijuana dispensaries surges and local officials rush to enact laws governing them — cannabis business people have banded together so as to have a louder voice in the debate.
More than 100 people attended the meeting in Longmont last week at the VFW hall, which Hill hosted. A day before, medical marijuana attorney Rob Corry hosted a similar meeting in Denver. Corry said he is talking with around 50 dispensary owners about forming a statewide association.
The idea, the medical marijuana supporters say, is to find a way for the burgeoning industry to fill the current regulatory vacuum and perhaps stave off further governmental rules by regulating itself.
"If you wait for something to happen to you, it's going to happen to you," medical marijuana attorney Jeff Gard told the crowd in Longmont. "If you take control over something yourself, you have some ability to direct it."
But getting consensus on a public, self-governing structure among dispensary owners — some of whom are accustomed to operating quietly and have a well-honed wariness of authority — is no sure thing.
During the meeting in Longmont, Gard read a list of rules recently negotiated in Frisco that he said could serve as a start for the cannabis community's proposals for self-regulation. Those laws include things such as standard operating hours, uniform security measures and prescribed buffer zones between dispensaries and schools or day-care facilities.
A number of the regulations elicited grumbles in the crowd.
"When you start talking about regulations," said Kathleen Chippi, who operates Cannabis Healing Arts in Nederland, "you're continuing to buy into reefer madness lies. We don't need to be afraid of a dispensary."
Other advocates, while conceding the need for some self-government, took issue with particular proposals