The Denver Post
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers says that if an Obama administration plan not to arrest medical-marijuana users and suppliers is going to work, state lawmakers need to regulate the industry.
But drawing up rules for how medical marijuana is grown and distributed likely will not be a top priority when the legislature reconvenes in January.
"The people of Colorado have clearly spoken on this issue and have decided that medicinal uses of marijuana are appropriate and legal in Colorado," said House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver. "When the legislature reconvenes in January, I will be asking the House to keep our focus on bolstering the economy, creating jobs and balancing the budget."
Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Justice issued an advisory to prosecutors not to pursue cases against medical-marijuana users and suppliers who follow state laws.
"The U.S. attorney general's new medical-marijuana policy relies on the faulty assumption that Colorado has clearly defined laws on medical marijuana. In fact, it does not," Suthers said in his statement.
Colorado is one of 14 states that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Currently there is no state regulation on dispensaries, Mark Salley spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.
Instead, Colorado's towns and cities must decide the rules for how and where dispensaries and growing operations function within their boundaries.
Since June 2001, about 13,000 people have applied for medical-marijuana cards, according to the health department. But the number of dispensaries in the state is not known.
Robert Corry, an attorney who specializes in medical-marijuana cases, said regulation would cripple a new industry that provides people with medicine. "Really, I think that it is a solution in search of a problem."
Suthers said there has been an increase in the number of dispensaries and patients since federal regulations eased earlier this year.
This increase is more likely a result of more doctors becoming comfortable prescribing the drug and more patients exploring its benefits, Corry said.
Larry Hill, owner of the Apothecary dispensary in Longmont, said eliminating the gray areas around dispensaries is important, but he also said state regulation is not a good solution.
He said developing general standards for growers and dispensaries would benefit the state more than monitoring patients and number of places medical marijuana is sold.
It is more important to monitor the quality of the cannabis and care of the patients, he said.
"Our top priority is providing a safe place for our patients to buy their medicine," Hill said.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Denver Post