Colorado needs to get a better handle on medical marijuana.
The burgeoning industry — created to help those with debilitating illnesses and pain — is mostly unregulated and that's becoming problematic.
The number of permits for medical marijuana use is spiraling far higher than many anticipated when voters passed a law allowing its use in 2000. The state health department told The Post's Lynn Bartels an average of 600 people apply for a permit every day.
Clearly, we're skeptical that all of the new permits are going to truly sick and deserving patients. (There seem to be a lot of 20-somethings with chronic back pain.)
However, the state lacks regulatory authority to deal with fraud — or much of anything else — under the current law.
To meet the demand of new users, businesses that sell medical pot are popping up like mushrooms. Yet the state's registry for the dispensaries, which was required under the 2000 law, doesn't license them, track them or regulate them. It even lacks a mechanism for dealing with complaints brought against a dispensary.
And if someone wants to start a dispensary? The registry has no information on how to establish or operate the facility.
Meanwhile, the rapid growth of medical pot users and businesses is clashing with local law enforcement. Though President Barack Obama this week instructed federal drug agents to respect state laws that govern medical marijuana, some Colorado sheriffs contend that illegal drug cartels are helping meet the increased demand for pot.
The result is that some cities are starting to pass laws to regulate use, and state Sen. Chris Romer says he will take up the issue with legislation during the next session of the General Assembly.
We note that a simple solution exists: Legalize marijuana for anyone 18 and older. Treat the drug like alcohol and regulate and tax its use.