Senate Committee Hashes out MMJ Bill

By Ernest Luning

A Colorado Senate committee grudgingly approved a bill to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries after more than eight hours of testimony that stretched nearly until midnight Tuesday. Noting that only a few witnesses supported the bill out of more than 100 who testified, lawmakers said House Bill 1284 needs some serious repair before it would win their final support.

State Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, center, talks to witnesses and reporters in the hall outside the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the State Capitol on Tuesday before a Senate committee heard testimony on a bill sponsored by Romer to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“This is the sausage-making, this is the process” said Senate Local Government and Energy Committee Chairwoman Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, as the hearing neared its conclusion and lawmakers prepared to vote. Earlier, Schwartz threatened several times to shut down the hearing when medical marijuana advocates became belligerent on the witness stand, including one man who said he hoped the politicians would “choke” if they passed the bill.

Tempers are running high as the General Assembly nears its final weeks in session without finished legislation to set rules for Colorado’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry. Legislators had hoped to tackle the question early in the session before moving on to the state’s budget crisis, but the chief authors of pending medical marijuana bills, Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, and Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, have found no agreement between competing interests — chiefly law enforcement and medical marijuana patients and caregivers — determined not to budge. And lurking behind all the activity are a handful of advocates determined to take the question to voters if lawmakers disappoint them.
Volunteers outside the Old Supreme Court Chambers stock a table full of sustenance for witnesses set to testify Tuesday at the State Capitol on a bill to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

While some are steadfast in their opposition to HB 1284 — most law enforcement officials say regulating medical marijuana dispensaries contradicts the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2000 that created the right for seriously ill patients to access the drug, and some patients and advocates believe any restrictions likewise will end up in court — nearly everyone was thrown for a loop when Romer unveiled substantial changes to the bill the House passed last week.

Romer’s proposals include the ability for local governments to ban dispensaries outright, a requirement the retail outlets grow 70 percent of their own product, a tighter set of restrictions on who can obtain a dispensary license, and fees in the tens of thousands of dollars to legally sell medical marijuana. Another proposal would forbid patients under age 21 from dispensaries.

If the bill’s going to get past Gov. Bill Ritter’s veto pen, it has to include “non-negotiables” worked out with the governor’s office, Romer said. “There are guard rails.”

Ritter, a former district attorney, appears to be more willing to accept highly regulated dispensaries than other law enforcement officials, including Attorney General John Suthers and a phalanx of prosecutors, police and sheriffs, who say voters should have a say before dispensaries get state approval. Nearly unanimously, law enforcement representatives said the current situation was driving up crime and exposing youth to an easily accessible illegal drug.

“Milk money has been replaced with drug money,” said Adams County sheriff’s deputy Jon Van Zandt.

A sign posted on a door to the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the State Capitol on Tuesday warns witnesses and spectators that “No pins, hats, badges or stickers allowed in the chamber.”
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“This is not a political issue,” Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey told the committee, “it’s a public safety issue. Legalizing dispensaries is tantamount to legalizing distribution of marijuana.” He went on to urge lawmakers to “dump this bill” and instead refer a measure on dispensaries to voters.

As unappetizing as this brand of legislative sausage may be, it’s not a set of questions lawmakers can put off, Romer said. Civic groups believe “the bill has to pass,” he said, “or the governor will have to call a special session.”

Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute urged lawmakers instead to create a commission to set rules, but after the committee passed the bill, she lamented the development “This is a sad day for patients,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Not only have they been sold out by their lawmakers, but they have been sold out by well-funded dispensaries, and they have been sold out by so-called patient rights groups. This bill will destroy patients’ access to their medicine, drive prices up, and force patients back into the black market.”

With so much discontent and disagreement, some lawmakers said the bill wasn’t yet near the finish line but agreed to push it forward.

“I have many problems with this bill,” said Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, minutes before the panel voted unanimously to wave the bill on to the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I have a whole list of unintended consequences.”

The lack of support for the bill “speaks extremely loudly,” she said. “I don’t want to derail tonight, but if these (problems) aren’t fixed, I’d rather have a bill that’s silent on some of these things and allow the rules process to work these things out with some of the stakeholders, than to have it too proscriptive (and) wrong.”

Sen. Ken Kester, R- Las Animas, agreed with Newell, at least in broad terms. “There’s a lot of things that need to happen to this bill before I feel comfortable with it,” he said, adding he’d vote it out of committee but that was the last vote sponsors could count on. “I hope you don’t bring another bill back to this committee while I’m on the committee,” he told Romer with a smile.

“We don’t write too many bills in uncharted territory,” Romer said as the committee prepared to adjourn. Because Colorado is one of the first states to tackle such explosive growth in the medical marijuana field, Romer reminded fellow lawmakers the state didn’t have other laws as guides. “We do need to work harder because there are people who will follow us,” he said.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Source Article Here

Finally A Victory for MMJ - Pot Measure Smoked

source: Denver Daily News

by Gene Davis
A measure that would have given voters the chance to essentially shut down retail medical marijuana dispensaries was killed yesterday in a Senate committee hearing.

A resolution proposed by GOP lawmakers that would have defined a medical marijuana caregiver in the state constitution was voted down 4-3 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. If passed by lawmakers and approved by voters, the resolution would have essentially snuffed out the medical marijuana dispensary model that has cropped up over the past year and a half.

“I believe when voters approved medical marijuana in 2000 that they did not envision a pot dispensary on every street corner,” Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, said in a statement prior to the committee hearing. “There are more medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver than Starbucks locations. The people deserve the opportunity to tell us if that is what they wanted.”

However, medical marijuana activists like Kevin Grimsinger Ń a war veteran who lost two limbs while serving in Afghanistan Ń believes the dispensary model helps ensure that marijuana is affordable for patients. His electric bill jumped by more than $200 when he tried to grow his own marijuana. Additionally, the marijuana that dispensaries are able to grow and sell is of a higher quality than the marijuana most patients are able to grow to treat their ailments, he said.

“Marijuana is a weed, anyone can grow it, but very few people can grow it right,” he said during the committee hearing.

Despite two medical marijuana reform bills that are making their way through the Legislature, many in the law enforcement community think the state is not doing enough to slow down Colorado’s fastest growing industry. North Metro Task Force Commander Jerry Peters argued during yesterday’s committee hearing that even regulating the industry wouldn’t shut down most of the medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado’s neighborhoods.

Medical marijuana attorney Brian Vicente, however, pointed out that the medical marijuana cardholders, of which there are more than 60,000 in Colorado, would still have a right to their constitutionally protected medicine even if dispensaries were shut down. As such, he believes getting rid of dispensaries would significantly increase the number of caregivers throughout the state.

“The sort of grand irony of this bill is that it is being pushed by law enforcement, but what they’re doing is taking a small controlled number of dispensaries and they would want to specifically remove that and disperse those grows to every community,” he said during the committee hearing.

Meanwhile, Dr. Christian Thurstone, the medical director of the adolescent substance abuse treatment program at Denver Health, said the dispensary model is increasing the availability of marijuana to kids. Research shows that about one in six teenagers who try marijuana get addicted and are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior and drop out of school, according to Thurstone. Children being referred to treatment for marijuana tripled last year compared to 2008, he added.

Jeff Blue, who appeared at the committee hearing on behalf of Attorney General John Suthers, added that voters should have the chance to weigh in on the retail dispensary model. The constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2000 gave seriously ill patients the right to use medical marijuana in Colorado, although the manner in which they could get the medicine was not detailed.

However, Kayvan Khalatbari, owner of Denver Pain Relief, argued that lots of people had lots of ideas about what would come from Amendment 20.

“I think the voters voted on giving people safe access to medicine, and that’s what it really comes down to,” he said.

Sad Day for Colordado Patients - HB1284 Passes

source: Cannabis Therapy Institute

{Denver} -- The Colorado state Senate Local Government Committee took hours
of testimony yesterday on HB1284. One of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Chris
Romer (D-Denver), was quoted in several articles yesterday saying that the
bill is designed to shut down 80% of caregiving businesses in Colorado. The
Committee hearing started at 2pm and finally adjourned at 11:30pm. The
Committee voted in favor of HB1284 and some of its last minute amendments
by a vote of 6 to 0, with Senator Cadman absent.

Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute says, "This is a sad day for
patients. Not only have they been sold out by their lawmakers, but they
have been sold out by well-funded dispensaries, and they have been sold out
by so-called patient rights groups. This bill will destroy patients' access
to their medicine, drive prices up, and force patients back into the black
market. The will of the voters has been ignored once again by lawmakers,
and sick and dying Colorado citizens will suffer."

"This is taking patient rights back over 100 years," says Timothy Tipton, a
patient advocate with the Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative "Things are
going in the wrong direction. Patients in the 1800s had better access to
cannabis medicine than they will under this new law."

In a departure from hearings in other committees, the Local Government
Committee Chair, Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass), allowed disabled patients
to testify first. This was followed by several hours of testimony from law
enforcement, including the District Attorney for Adams and Broomfield
Counties, the District Attorney for El Paso and Teller Counties, the
District Attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin Counties, the County Sheriffs of
Colorado, the Colorado Chiefs of Police Association, the North Metro Drug
Task force, and more. Most of the law enforcement testified against the
bill, saying that they didn't believe the "dispensary model" was allowed
under Colorado's medical marijuana constitutional amendment.

Several representatives of Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation, a
lobbying group hired by a handful of well-funded dispensaries who have been
"working with" Senator Romer on gaining concessions friendly to big
business. CMMR testified in favor of HB1284, but was against a dozen or so
last-minute amendments to the bill that Senator Romer surprised them with
that morning. Also testifying on the CMMR team was Brian Vicente from
Sensible Colorado, an organization which claims to be in support of patient
rights. Sensible asked for several amendments, but overall was satisfied
with the bill that would eliminate 80% of patient's caregivers, force
prices up, and force patients to use only one dispensary for their

Laura Kriho, the director of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, urged the
Committee to kill HB1284 and urged lawmakers to form a statewide commission
to study programs that have been working locally and recommend a bill that
had a broad base of support. Mark Simon, an activist with the disabled
community, testified that neither Sen. Romer nor anyone else had reached
out to the disabled community to get their input on the bill.

Others who gave testimony against HB1284 were attorneys Robert J. Corry,
Jr. and Lauren Davis; Laurel Alterman, owner of Altermeds dispensary in
Louisville; Miguel Lopez of Mile High NORML; Robert Chase of Colorado
Coalition of Patients and Caregivers; and the Colorado Springs Medical
Marijuana Council. The mountain contingent was well-represented with
Kathleen Chippi, owner of One Brown Mouse dispensary in Nederland; Jessica
LaRoux of Twirling Hippy Confections and Mark Rose of Grateful Meds
dispensary in Nederland all testifying eloquently against the bill.

The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee and then will be
voted on by the full Senate. CTI is urging patient rights supporters to
contact their state senators and urge them to vote No on HB1284.

Provided as a Public Service by the:
Cannabis Therapy Institute
P.O. Box 19084
Boulder, CO 80308
Phone: 877-420-4205

"Rocky Mountain High" Medical Marijuana in Danger

source: Huffington Post

by Robert J. Corry, Jr. and Jessica Corry

Over the past year, medical marijuana has consumed Colorado's news headlines and political debates. But with an estimated 100,000 patients now legally authorized to use marijuana to treat debilitating medical conditions, a handful of lawmakers threaten to dismantle a transparent dispensary system in favor of constitutionally-suspect regulations that could embolden a now-distressed black market.

We remain cautiously optimistic that the cloud of Prohibition will continue to clear. Repeatedly, courts have sided with patients in litigation surrounding medical marijuana rights. Voters, too, continue to express support for an emerging medical marijuana marketplace where transactions occur in well-lit, safe, taxable, environments instead of darkened back alleys, as they did in the decades before Colorado voters first approved medical marijuana in 2000.

While opponents mock this thriving industry and impugn patients' motives, six in ten voters continue to support medical marijuana rights. Notably, pro-medical marijuana sentiment runs strong even in the most unanticipated of places. In nursing homes across Colorado, terminally-ill residents use marijuana as an alternative to the haze of highly addictive narcotics.

While the state's economy continues to flounder, legislators have spent hundreds of hours over the last four months formulating proposals that could dismantle the state's system of retail dispensaries. Sen. Chris Romer, a Denver Democrat also running for Mayor, proposes Senate Bill 109 and House Bill 1284. As he explained it recently, the legislation would establish an army of "auditors with guns" to meet his goal of putting "well over 50 percent" of Colorado's legal marijuana businesses "out of business."

The proposals come after Senator Romer previously posted on this site that his efforts to establish a complex regulatory structure for medical marijuana were "now over."

Even more concerning, a handful of our fellow Republicans have now signed onto a ballot measure that would prohibit caregivers from making any profit whatsoever. If approved by legislators, Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 could appear on this November's ballot. It would ask voters to amend the Colorado Constitution to exclude retail sale or commercial cultivation of medical marijuana from constitutional protections, while also establishing overly cumbersome entitlements governing caregiver-patient relationships.

Patients will face an uphill battle and must band together to counter the special interests and establishment voices that seem to disfavor dispensaries. While Colorado's largest newspaper, The Denver Post, has established an excellent medical marijuana advertising section that has pumped much needed revenue into its coffers,, it uses its editorial page to bash dispensaries. A recent editorial argued that "dispensaries are never even mentioned in the medical marijuana constitutional amendment." Another Post editorial called legal retail medical marijuana a "farce" and "hypocrisy."

This assertion despite the Colorado Constitution Article XVIII § 14(2)(d)'s specific reference to "acquisition, possession, manufacture, production, use, sale, distribution, dispensing, or transportation of marijuana." If "dispensing" marijuana is explicitly contemplated, then a dispensary must reasonably be considered legal.

Marijuana is the only legal industry in America that endures such brazen threats from elected and opinion elites. If a politician had said that he plans to put "well over 50 percent" of all, say, supermarkets, out of business, would he suffer from voters?

Colorado House Bill 1284 and Senate Bill 109 would realize Senator Romer's dream of putting "well over half" out of business with requirements that no other business sector need satisfy. For example, the current version of HB 1284 purports to allow local governments to ban the exercise of this constitutional right to the medical use of marijuana. This would subject constitutional rights to government approval, when the principal purpose of constitutional rights is to protect vulnerable or unpopular minorities against the majority. Popular things don't need constitutional protection; pitchfork-wielding mobs are not screeching to ban Mom and apple pie. Although medical marijuana remains popular statewide, there remain geographically-isolated pockets of irrational prejudice and NIMBY-ism relating to medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients are the new despised minority; typical arguments recycle emotional Segregationist canards of "property values," "increased crime," and "we must protect the children," none of which have any empirical support.

HB 1284 requires the state to go, hat in hand, to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and request that the federal DEA "reschedule" marijuana from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule II substance. Lately here, the DEA's favorite pastime has been to laugh in Colorado's face when it comes to medical marijuana. However, in this instance, the DEA's inevitable laughter at Colorado's rescheduling request would be justified, since HB 1284 somehow ignores that it is the U.S. Congress, not the DEA, which sets the schedules for drugs. Before requesting the DEA to do something it cannot do, the Colorado Legislature should keep its own house in order, and reschedule marijuana away from Schedule I in its own State-level classification, Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-18-203.

HB 1284 requires that all officers, directors, stockholders, and employees be of "good moral character and reputation." What organization could comply with such a sweeping and vague requirement? Probably not even Focus on the Family, or the Colorado State Legislature for that matter. HB 1284 requires those in the medical marijuana business to repay all student loans and have no outstanding judgments due to any government agency, such as a parking ticket.

HB 1284 irrationally requires that retailers themselves cultivate no less than 70% of their supply offered to customers, and that no wholesalers can exist. If such a requirement applied to supermarkets, i.e., that the supermarket must grow 70% of the wheat for the bread on the shelves, and that every farmer growing the wheat must also be a retailer, it would put both farmer and supermarket out of business, stuck in an infinite loop of government "auditors with guns" tracking every last minutiae of the production chain.

HB 1284 also attempts to resurrect the notorious limit of five patients per caregiver, an unconstitutional limit which the Colorado Health Department illegally adopted and was enjoined by a court from enforcing. How can a caregiver function with any economies of scale if limited to five patients?

READ the full story at

New Miss High Times is Crowned!

This is a followup to our story back in December 2009 -

HIGH TIMES announced on 4/20/10 that Colorado's own Brittany Rene Wagoner for this year's Miss HIGH TIMES 2010!! Most Hi would like to send a HUGE congratulations to Brittany because she was truly the best choice!

Upon winning the coveted Miss HIGH TIMES title, Brittany is going to represent High Times at the 2010 High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam.

Check out the links below for more info:

Medical Marijuana business is on fire

By Rob Reuteman, Special from

DENVER — Medical marijuana dispensaries are springing up in Colorado's major cities like coffee shops, nail parlors, tanning salons or taco shops.

It's been 10 years since Colorado voted to allow the use and sale of marijuana for medical reasons. But in the past six months, the number of patients and dispensaries has skyrocketed.

"This industry is like a bolting horse running out of a stable that's on fire," said Sierra Neblina, owner of the Medimar Haven dispensary in Lakewood, Colo. "We need to get a hold of our own industry."

Denver has some 250 dispensary storefronts and Boulder, Colo., has more than 100. So far, the state has issued more than 66,000 cards that allow holders to purchase medical pot. Card demand is so high that there's a six-month waiting period.

Now, experts estimate more than 100,000 Coloradans can buy medicinal marijuana legally. On April 1, the Medical Marijuana Registry at the state health department stopped accepting walk-up applications and will only process those sent by mail.

"The changes are necessary due to the explosive growth in the number of medical marijuana applications," said Mark Salley of the Colorado Health Department. He said the number of applications jumped from 270 per workday in August 2009 to about 1,000 in February 2010.

Yet, few see legalized marijuana as a way to boost the economy and create jobs, according to an Associated Press/CNBC poll. About a quarter of those polled said legalized pot would lead to more jobs, but 57% said there would be no effect. Sixty-two percent approve of states taxing the drug, with people in the West more likely to back the idea.

Call it Marijuana Country

Like California, which was the first to OK medical marijuana in 1996, Colorado's marijuana infrastructure and culture are well ahead of the other 12 states that followed.

Though Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington allow the practice, they are in various stages of start-up mode.

Similar ballot measures or legislation allowing medical marijuana are pending in 14 more states this year: Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The City Council of the District of Columbia today considers a bill to allow the sale and use of medical marijuana.

Those states have a lot to learn from California and Colorado. In the Mountain State, the jump in dispensary openings and applications for medical marijuana cards appears to be a direct result of key events — both local and national — that essentially loosened restrictions.

In February 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Drug Enforcement Agency would end raids on state-approved marijuana dispensaries. He said President Obama's election campaign position condoning medical use is "now American policy." Marijuana for non-medical purposes remains illegal.

In July 2009, during a 12-hour hearing in which hundreds testified, the Colorado Board of Health rejected a proposal to limit the number of patients to five that could be served by each caregiver or dispensary. In October, the Obama administration clarified Holder's February statement, telling federal authorities not to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana users and suppliers who aren't violating local laws.

The policy decisions bolstered a business model used by most existing dispensaries, which serve 400 or more patients. And they offered a measure of certainty to investors who are bankrolling the growth in retail outlets.

How it works

To get a medical marijuana card in Colorado, a patient must see a licensed physician who provides written documentation of a "debilitating medical condition." These may include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS or HIV-positive status, seizures, severe pain, severe nausea or severe muscle spasms.

Medical use, according to the law, covers "the acquisition, possession, production, use or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia related to the administration of such marijuana to address the symptoms." A doctor's visit typically costs about $150 and may consist of a five- to 10-minute conversation.

Some dispensaries host doctors on site. Websites list regular doctors' hours. The state charges a $90 processing fee, and dispensaries usually add notary or other smaller handling charges, for a total patient cost of about $250.

Then there's the product. An ounce of medical marijuana currently costs about $350 and is considered sufficient to last about six weeks for the average patient.

Often, a dispensary offers a discount to a patient, who then lists it as his or her "primary caregiver." A patient may possess up to 2 ounces of pot or six plants for personal use, and a dispensary may have on hand 2 ounces of pot per patient.

A dispensary may provide a grower with its patient list; a grower may house six plants per patient.

Dispensaries, however, are far more than smoking dens. Marijuana is bought and sold in an array of edible forms, such as caramel corn made with marijuana-laced butter, chocolate-covered cherries, rice cake treats and frozen pizzas.

Mile High Ice Cream in Denver makes dozens of flavors with marijuana. There are bottled soft drinks, pills and tinctures.

Dispensaries also sell routine and advanced drug paraphernalia, including pipes, lighters, scented candles and smokeless "delivery systems" called vaporizers, the latter of which can cost several hundred dollars apiece.

Many dispensaries have expanded to offer massage, acupuncture and other alternative healing methods, usually arranging patient appointments and providing operating space for a practitioner.

There's even an industry trade group, the Colorado Wellness Association, formed in October 2009, whose public affairs officer is a former state senator, Bob Hagedorn.

"I've visited about 80 dispensaries in the Denver metro area," Hagedorn said. "I'd say 10% are very serious about the wellness side of things. Fifty percent are interested in moving product. The other 40% is a balance of those two."

- read the full story here

Medical Marijuana Bills Will Harm Patients

source: Cannabis Therapy Institute

Colorado Medical Marijuana Licensing to be Run by "Auditors with Guns"

State Licenses Will Cost $50,000/year

{Denver} -- There are now two law enforcement bills working their way
through the Colorado state legislature that would seriously harm medical
marijuana patients and their caregivers in Colorado. Both of these bills
have seen strong support from legislators, both Democrats and Republicans.

Law enforcement bill #1 (SB109) would destroy the confidentiality of the
Registry by allowing the government to use patient records to determine
"suspicious" activity by physicians. It allocates over $1 million of
patient registration fees to prosecute these "suspicious" physicians.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Chris Romer (D-Denver), promised the Cannabis
Therapy Institute repeatedly that he would use patient registration fees to
create 24/7 access for law enforcement to the Registry so that police could
confirm whether a patient was legal after business hours and on weekends.
This has been the #1 patient concern for years and would prevent many
patients from being arrested and taken to jail simply because the Registry
offices were closed. Instead, Romer wants to use patient fees to prosecute
those patients' physicians, allowing unprecedented access to the formerly
confidential Registry.

Law enforcement bill #2 (HB 1284) is a 49-page regulatory monstrosity that
seeks to eliminate 95% of existing dispensaries. It creates a state medical
marijuana licensing board run by the Department of Revenue. Dispensaries
would have to get a state license, a local license, and a cultivation
license. Dispensaries would be subject to warrantless searches of their
premises. Law enforcement would be able to come in as often as they wanted
to count and weigh a dispensary's cannabis and search through patient
records to make sure the dispensary didn't have "too much.". Law
enforcement would be able to track patients as well, to make sure they
weren't purchasing "too much" medicine. HB1284 would create a new class of
law enforcement official, the "medical marijuana enforcement investigator"
that would be in charge of these warrantless searches. HB1284 would also
require caregivers to give up their 5th Amendment right against
self-incrimination, leaving them open to possible federal criminal charges.

Senator Romer, one of the co-sponsors of HB1284, discussed the bills at a
meeting of the Medical Marijuana Business Alliance on April 15, 2010 at the
Loews Hotel in Denver. His comments were shocking to the audience.

Romer described the new regulatory regime. "The Department of Revenue will
regulate it with guns," he said. "Auditors with guns will be in your
dispensary every 5 to 7 days" to count and weigh your medicine. Since you
will be seeing so much of your auditor, Sen. Romer said, "Your auditor will
be your best friend. Yes, he will have a gun, but that will be OK." Romer
repeated the phrase "auditors with guns" dozens of times in his 20 minute
speech, almost seeming gleeful at the thought. Romer also said that the
progress on HB1284 has been stalled because "we're trying to figure out
exactly how many auditors with guns we will need."

The big bombshell fell when Romer was asked how much a state dispensary
license would cost. He replied that the fee would probably be around
$50,000 a year, maybe more. Yes, that's not a typo, fifty thousand dollars
each year.

This is the future of medical marijuana: the Law Enforcement Model to
Medicine. Readers in other states should be wary as well. Law enforcement
all over the country will be using Colorado's regulatory regime as a model
for their own state's regulations down the road.


1) Call or email your local House and Senate Members and ask them to:
VOTE NO ON HB1284 and SB109

House Offices: (303) 866-2904
Senate Offices: (303) 866-2316

Click here for a full list of emails and other contact info.

Send us copies of any emails you send.

Go to the General Assembly Home Page for the most current copies of the

2) Copy and print this PDF version of this Action Alert and bring copies
everywhere. Let's get the phones ringing down there.

Jack Herer Continues His Fight to Educate the Public on Hemp and Cannabis!

Cannabis Classroom – Jack Herer’s Online School Of Cannabis Hemp – Opens Spring 2010

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Nederland Voters Legalize Marijuana - Oust Mayor!

source: The Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)

Nederland became the second municipality in Colorado to legalize marijuana within its borders on Tuesday night.

The mountain town's residents went further than Breckinridge, which last year legalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, and by a vote of 259 to 218, removed all criminal penalties against buying, selling, possessing, consuming, growing and transporting marijuana for anyone age 21 or older.

Nederland voters also chose Trustee Sumaya Abu-Haidar to replace incumbent Mayor Martin Cheshes, making Cheshes the fourth mayor in a row to not win re-election.

Marci Wheelock, appointed to fill a vacancy just a few months ago, won election to her seat, along with newcomers Kevin Mueller, Chris Perret and Rob Joseph. When a new trustee is appointed to fill the vacancy left by Abu-Haidar, that makes for four new faces on the six-member Board of Trustees.

Boulder County law enforcement officials said the marijuana vote was largely meaningless because state laws against the non-medical use of marijuana remain in effect.

“The issues we focus on are drug-dealing and trafficking, and we don't get very many cases like that involving marijuana,” Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, whose deputies work closely with Nederland town police, said his department enforces state, not local, laws.

“Marijuana enforcement for small quantities and personal use is not a priority for our department or for our community, but we'll continue to investigate and enforce trafficking," he said.

For "Michigan Mike" Torpie, who gathered the signatures to put the issue on the ballot, such distinctions miss the point.

"It's entirely symbolic, but it gets people's voice out there,” he said. “As more and more communities do this, it sends a message to the state legislature that people believe this to be largely harmless."

Garnett agreed about the political ramifications.

“I'll pay attention if it passes,” he said Tuesday afternoon, before the votes were counted. “Marijuana enforcement is a sensitive issue, and it's important to gauge public sentiment.”

Abu-Haidar, the mayor-elect, said she favors decriminalization of marijuana, but she thinks the initiative was a bad idea.

"We don't need to take this on at a local level,” she said. “We're a statutory town, so we're still bound by state laws. We have more important things to worry about.”

Melanie Dougherty, a stay-at-home mother of two who voted to decriminalize marijuana, said she knows overturning local laws won't change anything, but she still wanted to vote her conscience.

"I just don't like all the hoopla around it," she said after voting. "What people do in their own homes is their own business."

Town Clerk Christi Icenogle said turn-out was high, with 482 people out of a population of a little more than 1,300 people voting. Votes were counted by hand, and results were not released until after midnight.

Law Officers Feel War on Drugs Has Failed


When the Assembly's Public Safety Committee voted 12 days ago to approve the legalization and regulation of marijuana in California, knee-jerk reactions were sure to follow.

This was only a first step toward legislation, but San Mateo police Chief Susan Manheimer quickly described the looming possibility as "mind-boggling."

John Lovell, speaking for the California Peace Officers Association, said it was "the last thing our society needs."

It wasn't hard to envision lawmen up and down the state nodding in agreement.

The viewpoint is understandable. It is part of the internal wiring of police agencies. The War on Drugs declared by President Nixon in 1971 has spanned four decades and seven administrations.

The thing is, it has failed. A far better idea is to legalize and regulate marijuana sales.

There are at least 1,500 current and former law enforcement professionals who agree. They are members of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), who base their opinions on years of experience.

Jack Cole, co-founder of the 8-year-old organization, is a retired New Jersey State Police lieutenant who served 12 of his 26 years on the job as an undercover narcotics cop. He describes the War on Drugs as "not only a dismal failure but a terribly destructive policy."

Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief, used to kick in drug dealers' doors early in his 34-year career. His opinion: "It has cost the national treasury obscene amounts of money. And for what?"

James Gray, an Orange County Superior Court judge for 20 years, remembers sentencing one dealer after another to no perceptible end. "The closer you get to the issue," he said, "the more you see we couldn't do worse if we tried."

They liken the ban on recreational drugs to Prohibition, when the government's ill-fated attempt to end the sale of liquor created a lucrative industry for criminals. Sound familiar?

LEAP has packaged its argument in a convincing 12-minute video (, in which Cole explains that an estimated 1.3 percent of the U.S. population was addicted to drugs when the Harrison Act, a national anti-drug law, was enacted in 1914.

And 1.3 percent was believed to be addicted when the War on Drugs was unveiled. And 1.3 percent was addicted when a study was conducted in 2006.

So to sum up the 95-year battle against drugs: Nothing's changed.

The bootleggers and speak-easies that circumvented Prohibition have been replaced by drug cartels and street dealers. Far smarter than banning drugs would be government regulation.

"It's easier for teenagers to get marijuana than alcohol," Gray said. "That's because alcohol is regulated and controlled by the government, and illegal drugs are controlled by drug dealers. They don't ask for IDs."

In addition, dealers often recruit teenagers to sell. And when they do, they sell to other teens. "I've seen this too many times in juvenile court," he said. "I am determined to put an end to it."

James Anthony, a former Oakland prosecutor and member of LEAP, said the government errs in using a criminal justice approach to remedy a public health problem. Police should focus on public safety — stopping major crimes — not chasing bags of marijuana.

"I've worked closely with a lot of police officers who will admit, off the record, that the approach we're taking is not working and never will," Anthony said.

Among the obvious benefits to the proposed Assembly bill:

# Law enforcement resources allocated more wisely and a decline in the prison population.

# State revenues from sales taxes estimated at $1.4 billion.

# An end to the wrangling over medical marijuana.

# Revitalization of the hemp farming industry.

# Deglamorization of marijuana for recreation.

Gray calls the last bullet point the "Holland effect," noting that legalizing marijuana in The Netherlands has lessened its appeal: Per-capita consumption is only half what it is in the United States.

"They have succeeded in making marijuana boring," he said.

It would be foolhardy to suggest that change will come without cost. Even advocates concede there will be an initial uptick in users. The curious will inhale this opportunity.

Anthony said there might also be a knee-jerk reaction from drug dealers deprived of income.

"If people can't make a living selling marijuana in the underground market," he said, "you may see a spike in other crimes of economic opportunity — muggings, car burglaries, that kind of thing. We have to look at society as a total system."

Legalization represents a major reversal in policy, but that doesn't make it bad. When you find out you've been going in the wrong direction, the smart thing is to turn around.

NORML reports: Over 2,500 Subjects Since 2005 Have Used Marijuana-Based Medicines In Controlled Clinical Trials


Researchers worldwide have performed 37 separate clinical trials assessing the therapeutic safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis and marijuana-based medicines since 2005, according to a review published online last week in the journal Cannabinoids: The Journal of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM).

Investigators from Leiden University in the Netherlands and the nova-Institut in Germany conducted a systematic review of recent clinical trial data pertaining to the medical use of whole smoked marijuana and cannabinoids.

Authors identified 37 controlled studies since 2005 evaluating the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids. The trials involved a total of 2,563 subjects.

Of the 37 clinical trials that have been recently conducted, eleven assessed the drug’s impact on chronic neuropathic pain – a difficult to treat type of pain resulting from nerve damage. Other studies assessed the efficacy of cannabinoids to treat multiple sclerosis-associated spasticity (nine separate studies); HIV/AIDS (four); experimental pain (four); intestinal dysfunction (two); nausea/vomiting/appetite (two); schizophrenia (two); glaucoma (one); and ‘other indications (two).

Authors concluded, “Based on the clinical results, cannabinoids present an interesting therapeutic potential mainly as analgesics in chronic neuropathic pain, appetite stimulants in debilitating diseases (cancer and AIDS), as well as in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.”

Last Wednesday investigators from the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research released the results of a series of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that determined that cannabinoids could be “a first-line treatment” for patients suffering from neuropathy.

Commenting on the review, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The safety and efficacy of marijuana as a medicine has now been established by the ‘gold standard’ of clinical study. Further, over 2,500 patients have used cannabinoids in controlled clinical trials over the past five years alone. This is a far greater total than the number of subjects that would likely be administered any other new drug pending United States FDA approval, and is a large enough population to once and for all establish marijuana’s objective value as a medicine.”

Hawaii Legislature Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana


Possession of small amounts of marijuana would be decriminalized under legislation advancing through the state Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a measure yesterday capping the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana at $100.

A separate bill that cleared its final Senate committee Monday would permit medical marijuana "compassion centers" to dispense the drug.

Both measures will be scheduled for votes before the full Senate next week, and if passed they would move to the House for further consideration.

Hawaii already has a medical marijuana law licensing patients to use the drug, but they're not allowed to buy it. The law allows patients to grow small amounts for personal use.

DEA Marijuana Seizures Nearly Double Over the Past Year


The total amount of marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration nearly doubled from 1,539 metric tons in fiscal 2008 to 2,980 metric tons in last year.

The numbers were disclosed as part of the DEA’s budget request for fiscal 2011.

A chart shows the flow of drugs into the United States (DEA).

A spokesman for the DEA declined to elaborate on the reason for such a dramatic rise in seizures of marijuana.

“Several factors play into this number and in any given year the amount of drugs seized by DEA can fluctuate,” said spokesman David Ausiello.

Aaron Houston, the director of government relations of the Marijuana Policy Project, a lobbying group that advocates the legalization of marijuana, said he suspected the increase was a result of drug seizures from cartels.

Despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that targeting individual users of cannabis for medical purposes was no longer a priority, the DEA budget request spoke dismissively of the benefits of medical marijuana, even placing the word patients in quotation marks.

“DEA does not investigate or target individual ‘patients’ who use cannabis, but instead the drug trafficking organizations involved in marijuana trafficking,” the request stated.

Houston applauded the Obama administration for its decision to stop raiding medical marijuana facilities in states that allow the practice. But said Houston, “on the rest of their drug policy, they’re on Bush administration auto-pilot.”

The DEA request said that there has been no Food and Drug Administration research that shows the benefits of medical marijuana. But the DEA has blocked such research from taking place, according to Houston. Just a few days before Obama was sworn into office, Houston said, the DEA refused to grant approval for a University of Massachusetts Amherst study into medical marijuana.

“It’s pretty cynical for DEA to claim on the one hand that we have to wait for the science to come in, and with the other hand literally block that research from happening,” said Houston.

The DEA’s full budget request is available on the Justice Department’s Web site.

Cannabidiol Inhibits Spread of Breast Cancer Cells


California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute Final Report (2008)

We discovered that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic compound from the plant Cannabis sativa, can inhibit the process of breast cancer cells that allow them to grow and spread (metastasis). CBD can also inhibit breast cancer metastasis in a mouse model. The research carried out in our CBCRP proposal demonstrated that CBD is a novel inhibitor of a gene whose activity is intimately linked to the aggressiveness of human breast cancers; this gene has been termed Id-1. Notably, our findings also indicated that Id-1 was a key gene whose expression needed to be reduced in order for CBD to inhibit aggressive breast cancer. One of the most significant high risk components of the initial application was to determine if CBD had appreciable efficacy against breast cancer in vivo (i.e., animal models). This high risk component was not pursued, since an independent group showed CBD was able to inhibit metastasis of MDA-MB231 cells to the lung of nude mice. Building of the previous findings, we made small structural changes to CBD that are expected to produce drugs that are much more active than CBD at inhibiting Id-1 and corresponding aggressive breast cancers. CBD has a low toxicity profile. An anticancer agent with a low toxicity profile that can both inhibit cancer cell growth and metastasis would be extremely valuable clinically. Understanding the mechanisms behind the anticancer activity of CBD may also lead to the discovery of new biological targets for the development of diagnostic tools and additional therapies for the treatment of cancer. In this project we found portions of the CBD structure essential to its biological activity for breast cancer cell growth inhibition. We are in the process of filing a patent on these discoveries. In addition, we studies the moleculr mechanisms that underlie CBD activity, and found that sustained upregulation of Erk (extracellular signal-regulated kinases, a type of protein kinase intracellular signaling molecules) is key to the ability of CBD to regulate the metastasis-specific inhibition of the Id-1 transcription factor.

Antioxidant activity has been reported to be a general property of the phenolic components of marijuana. Unlike Δ9-THC, cannabidiol can be administered at relatively high doses without undesired toxic or psychological effects.1 Cannabidiol at a concentration of 10 µM was neuroprotective against both excitatory neurotransmitter (glutamate) and oxidant (hydroperoxide) induced neurotoxicity.

Read about Cannabidiol click here.

Cannabidiol Treatment For Cancer

UN Drug Watchdog Warns Canada: Strengthen MMJ laws or else,


Justice Minister Robert Nicholson said yesterday the government's medical marijuana regulations are under review after the UN's drugs watchdog warned Canada needs to tighten up the system.

The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board said Canada is operating outside international treaty rules aimed at minimizing the risk criminals will get hold of cannabis grown under the program.

"The whole question of medical marijuana is being looked at by the Minister of Health with respect to the options that she has," said Mr. Nicholson, whose ministry serves as the umbrella agency for the government's anti-drug efforts.

The warning in the INCB's annual report accompanies praise for the government's National Anti-Drug Strategy, which the board said it notes "with appreciation."

Mr. Nicholson said he took heart from that, adding it "plays very well" into the government's efforts to push through a crime bill containing tougher drugs-offences sentencing provisions that has been held up in the Senate.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews also argued the report "provides further proof that Canada is recognized internationally as a leader in crime prevention."

Canada increased the number of cannabis cultivation licences a person can hold last year after court decisions stated patients' earlier access had been too restricted.

Health Canada has issued almost 4,900 permits allowing people to possess medical marijuana they get from more than 1,100 licensed growers, some of whom are growing it for their own use.

"Canada continues to be one of the few countries in the world that allows cannabis to be prescribed by doctors to patients with certain serious illnesses," said the INCB report.

But the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics, which Canada has signed, says the government must be the sole distributor of the otherwise illegal substance, which patients use as a pain reliever.

The opportunity for misuse of the system is reflected in an RCMP review identifying 40 cases in which licensed growers were also trafficking marijuana for profit. The same review found violations in a total of 70 cases.

While the INCB report noted that Canada "intends to reassess" its access-to-cannabis program, it said the board "requests the government to respect the provisions" of the 1961 convention in conducting its review.

City leaders in Colorado Springs nix new rules on MMJ dispensaries

source: Pueblo Chieftan

The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday rejected a proposed resolution that could have forced the closure of existing medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of residential areas and schools.

The council decision came during a tense, day-long meeting at which it also outlawed camping on public land. A standing-room only crowed packed the council chambers for part of the day.

“I need a joint,” a bystander said after the meeting ended at about 9 p.m. Although emotions ran high throughout the meeting, tempers flared during the discussion on the proposed resolution involving medical marijuana dispensaries, which Deputy City Attorney Wynetta Massey drafted at her kitchen table overnight after receiving little direction from the council Monday.

At one point during the meeting, Mayor Lionel Rivera abruptly called a recess when the audience became unruly.

During the break, Councilman Bernie Herpin got into a shouting match with Michael Lee, who owns Cannabis Therapeutics. And on the dais, Vice Mayor Larry Small and Councilman Sean Paige exchanged tense words.

Paige, who spearheaded a task force that worked for three months to develop an ordinance to regulate the city’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, called this week’s resolution a “shortcut” that threw a “monkey wrench” into the work of the task force.

The council had previously asked the task force to meet with neighborhood groups, law enforcement officials and others to review the ordinance and report back in March.

Small, who supported the resolution that was drafted this week in response to neighborhood complaints about a planned nearby dispensary, assured Paige that no one was trying to circumvent the process.

“I think the more you get involved in government, the more you know that you better coordinate your efforts at all levels of government or you’re going to create very serious, costly problems,” Small said, an obvious dig at Paige, who was appointed to a vacant seat on the council in October.

“The more I get involved in government, Mr. Vice Mayor, the more I’m disappointed with some of the people I work with in government,” Paige retorted, generating loud applause from the audience.

“Mr. Paige, if you want to get personal, I’ll be glad to get personal,” Small said.

“Go for it,” Paige said, prompting Rivera to call for civility among council members.

“Let’s not get into personal attacks,” Rivera said.

In the end, the council turned aside the resolution and decided instead to ask the Regional Building Authority to enforce the regional building code, which essentially puts a number of hurdles in front of any new proposed dispensary that applies for building permits, but leaves existing dispensaries alone, unless they become the object of complaints.

Mason Tvert blames continued unnecessary pot prosecutions on Mayor John Hickenlooper's apointee Lt. Martinez

source: Westword

Last week, reporter Joel Warner told you about marijuana advocate Mason Tvert's call for removal from the Denver Marijuana Review Panel of fellow member Lieutenant Ernie Martinez, head of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association. Martinez's sin? He wrote a 2006 letter comparing marijuana legalization to cancer.

Mayor John Hickenlooper, who appointed the members of the panel, rebuffed that demand through his office, prompting a press conference by Tvert protesting the decision prior to yesterday's panel meeting.

In addition, Tvert is upset at what he sees as the unjustifiably high number of pot prosecutions in Denver despite the passage back in 2005 of a measure decriminalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults in the city.

Regarding the press conference, Tvert says, "We held it at the Denver City and County Building, and there were probably thirty folks there -- all of them Colorado voters, many of them Denver voters. They made a large sign that read, 'We are not a cancer. We are Colorado voters.'"

The placard was intended as "a message to Mayor Hickenlooper, who's seeking statewide office," he continues. "It was a way of letting him know that he needs to stand up for these voters -- voters who are certainly not a cancer. Recent surveys have shown that there's about 50 percent support for making marijuana legal statewide, and about two-thirds support in Denver. These are the people Lt. Martinez referred to as a cancer, and we're concerned that Mayor Hickenlooper would appoint someone like this to a panel dealing with marijuana policy -- and we hope it's not a sign of things to come should he be elected to statewide office."

In Tvert's view, placing Martinez on the panel "is on par with appointing Tom Tancredo to the Latino Commission. This guy's mission runs counter to the mission of the panel, which is legally charged with implementing the measure to the greatest extent possible. After all, he's the president of an organization that's outwardly fighting us at every turn and calling us a cancer. If someone on the immigrant commission said immigrants were a cancer on a society, there would be outrage. And this should be no different."

lowest priority for dummies cover.JPG
​Additionally, Tvert and his supporters created a mock-up of a Lowest Priority For Dummies book on view here in reference to a statement released by Hickenlooper's staff describing why Martinez shouldn't be removed from the panel. That release reads:

The Marijuana Policy Review Panel (MPRP) intentionally represents a variety of viewpoints, including those of Lt. Martinez. The MPRP has 11 appointed positions (the appointment of the District Attorney was declined) and there are 10 voting panelists in practice.

Lt. Martinez is one voice on the panel. Police officers and recreational users of marijuana may, understandably, have very different perspectives on the phrases "lowest law enforcement priority" and "greatest extent possible." The role of the MPRP is to determine what this ordinance means, in practice, after incorporating all viewpoints -- not just those on one side of the debate. The MPRP's upcoming report to City Council should shed more light on this matter.

To Tvert, the attempt by the Mayor's office to suggest differing interpretations of the phrase "lowest law enforcement priority" is "absurd. These are simple concepts. If police aren't pulling people over for driving five miles per hour over the speed limit or for jaywalking, they shouldn't be citing anyone for marijuana possession."

This subject was debated throughout the panel get-together that followed the press conference. Lt. Martinez wasn't able to attend due to a personal matter, but assistant city attorney Vince Dicroce was on hand to provide data regarding the number of marijuana-possession cases for adults 21 and over filed by the city attorney's office over the past four years. And surprisingly, the totals are actually higher after the decriminalization ordinance passed than before it. The numbers:

2005 -- 1,485

2006 -- 1,841

2007 -- 2,105

2008 -- 1,658

2009 -- 1,694

These totals frustrate Tvert for many reasons, not the least of which is the example provided by Seattle, whose marijuana-possession law is very similar to Denver's. Last month, the Seattle city attorney announced that he would dismiss all pending marijuana-possession cases. Moreover, Seattle's overall prosecution figures were already much lower than Denver's -- just 62 marijuana-related cases filed during the first six months of 2009.

Tvert says the marijuana panel called for such a dismissal of cases in Denver "over a year ago," and he quotes Dicroce as saying that city attorney David Fine could make a decision to do so if given the go-ahead by Mayor Hickenlooper. However, such permission has not been granted -- and as a result, Tvert says, "we're sending nearly 2,000 people a year through the Denver court system for something the majority of people here don't think is a crime. It's just a waste, not to mention the fact that these people are faced with having this on their permanent criminal record. This flies in the face of the voters and is a policy that most of the state no longer supports."

The next big project for the marijuana panel is what Tvert calls "an analysis of what's been happening over the course of the years since this passed -- what the costs have been, what the trends have been, whether there have been any noticeable effects." But the early stages of assembling the report, which will be made public in mid-August or thereabouts, have been challenging because "the city and the city's attorney's office has really obstructed us. They've been reluctant to give us the data we need, and either they're not giving us the information they have or they're completely incompetent and we have a terrible city government structure. It's chaos."

In the immediate future, however, Tvert wants to keep the pressure on Hickenlooper regarding Martinez and the continued marijuana-possession prosecutions. If the mayor doesn't act to remedy these situations, he sees the potential for negative repercussions on his gubernatorial campaign.

"I'd much rather see Mayor Hickenlooper in office than Scott McInnis," he concedes. "But you can't ignore that he's appointing people with such extremist marijuana views. The panel is dedicated to reducing marijuana arrests and prosecutions, and he's nominated someone who wants to maintain marijuana arrests and prosecutions.

"There are now tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients in Colorado, and thousands more who support the legalization of marijuana for responsible adults statewide, and Mayor Hickenlooper needs to recognize those voters. Many of them might not vote against him because of his positions here, but they might refrain from giving him their vote, and in a close election, that could make the difference. The people of Denver have made it abundantly clear that they want this, and yet he's been a roadblock to progress. It's time for a change."

Medical Marijuana Laws Leave Employers Dazed and Confused

source: By Courtney Rubin | Feb 12, 2010

Medical marijuana laws are designed to ease pain for migraine sufferers and other people with conditions that leave them in chronic pain. Now they are also causing headaches for employers.

Luke Vezey, a Colorado Springs man with a medical marijuana card state law requires to light up legally, was fired from his job for failing a drug test.

Vezey, who suffers from chronic stomach pain, told Colorado's KKTV Thursday: "What I do is strictly for my stomach. I do it out of work, I've never come in under the influence."

He worked as a guard at a private-jail facility which has a zero-tolerance drugs policy he says he was aware of when he was asked to take a random drug test. He failed the test, was placed on leave, and then received a certified letter firing him.

Vezey has hired a lawyer to fight the decision, but Colorado Springs lawyer Kevin Donavon (who is not involved with the case) says the law is confusing.

"There is no prescription, marijuana prescription. It's a recommendation by the doctor and if you have that recommendation that allows you immunity from prosecution," Donavan said. But nothing in the law prevents a user from losing his o her job after a positive drug test. Vezey's former employer declined to comment, citing privacy reasons.

Last month, New Jersey became the 14th state to make marijuana legal for medicinal purposes, and an additional 12 states have pending legislation – meaning more and more employers will find themselves considering adding a Marijuana FAQ to the employee handbook. Only Rhode Island specifically protects workers from being fired for their medical use of the drug.

- read the entire story

Medical Marijuana Crop Insurance

source: Westword Blog

For seventeen years, J.B. Woods, owner of Parker's Greenpoint Insurance Group, has sold policies that cover losses to individuals, families and assorted commercial and business interests.

But it's only been in the past few days that he's been able to offer medical marijuana crop insurance -- and he thinks it's a product whose time has come.

"Don't you want to protect your most valuable assets -- which are the stock and the medicine?" he asks.

"We just rolled it out last Friday, now that there are a couple of insurance companies willing to insure medical marijuana while it's being grown in the pots," says Woods, who's launched a new website at "I think that, in the history of crop insurance, it's the first time it's ever been done."

Woods declines to name the specific firms offering this option, saying he doesn't want to provide information his competitors may be able to use against him. But he insists that "they're A-rated companies: very large multinational institutions. One of my carriers in particular probably insures 70 to 80 percent of the dispensaries in California."

What do the policies cover?

"First of all, everything has to be indoors, in a warehouse or an actual dispensary," Woods explains. "And it's going to cover theft, which I think is the biggest issue. This is why all the dispensaries and growers want it. It covers living plant material, harvested plant material and finished stock, the medicine, as well.

"The term we use is perils -- and theft is going to be the number one peril. But they'll also cover fire, lightning, smoke damage, wind storms, hail, vandalism."

And the price?

According to Woods, "It varies by the number of plants we're covering -- but I can tell you this much. At one of my carriers -- probably not the leading carrier -- the minimum cost is about $15,000 to get into the policy. My other carrier, I don't have a price-point yet."

Thus far, there hasn't been a rush among dispensary owners to purchase these policies: Woods has yet to finalize one. However, this weekend, the Denver Post included Woods in a piece about businesses trying to capitalize on the medical marijuana boom, prompting some calls on the subject. He says he's got a meeting with a potential client later today -- and he expects more will follow.

"This is my opinion," he says, "but as these dispensaries and growers get bigger, the cost is going to be insignificant compared to the investment in what they've got under their roof."

Colo. Senate approves new medical marijuana regulations

(And yet they still fail to recognize that this is a PLANT we are talking about)


DENVER - The Colorado state legislature has moved a step closer to cracking down on the seemingly unabated distribution of medical marijuana.

The full senate voted 34-1 on Monday to approve a bill that would bar doctors from writing medical marijuana recommendations inside dispensaries. It also requires that doctors have a relationship with a patient involving a review of medical history and a full medical exam, prior to writing a recommendation.

Those between 18 and 21 would have to get the backing of two doctors before becoming medical marijuana users.

Sponsored by Sens. Chris Romer, D-Denver, and Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, Senate Bill 109 aims to create new rules related to standards for issuing registry identification cards, documentation for physicians who prescribe medical marijuana, and sanctions for physicians who violate the bill.

"The days of the Wild West are over," Romer said during a well-attended public hearing at the State Capitol last week.

Attorney General John Suthers and Ned Colange, Colorado's Chief Medical Examiner, testified in support of the bill.

Representing hundreds of medical marijuana users, attorney Robert Corry called the bill "an unprecedented assault on the doctor-patient privilege" that would, Corry said, "hold medical marijuana doctors to a higher standard than any other doctor.

"This would cause human suffering. The most sick and most poor would be disproportionately harmed by this bill," Corry said. "You're going to see the BME conducting witch hunts against medical marijuana providers."

Majority of Americans under 65 Favor Legalizing Marijuana

Majority of Americans under 65 Favor Legalizing Marijuana
The headline on the press release for the ABC News/Washington Post poll released on January 18 read “High Support for Medical Marijuana.” (PDF Link here) The results emphasized that 81% of Americans support legalizing the medical use of marijuana and 56% think doctors should be able to prescribe it without restrictions. The poll also asked if marijuana should be legalized for non-medical, personal use. Forty-six percent responded yes, but this result was brought down by the fact that only 23% of senior citizens favor full legalization. The poll result that was most relevant to the future legal status of marijuana was that 51% of adults under the age of 65 favor legalization. Even 30% of conservatives agreed with this position.
Statistics compiled by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that a majority of adult Americans under the age of 60 have tried marijuana at least once. Many of these, although they may not have continued to use it, find it hypocritical that alcohol is legal and marijuana is not.


Sen. Romer Withdraws Restrictive Medical Marijuana Bill

source: Cannabis Therapy Institute

{Denver} -- In a blog on Saturday, Senator Chris Romer (D-Denver) announced his attention to drop his bill for an unworkable licensing regime that would have driven 80% of Colorado medical marijuana caregivers out of business. Romer claims that he is giving up on his onerous bill because law enforcement and the medical marijuana community were not willing to find common ground.

Read the entire blog:

The CTI supporters that have been writing and calling Romer and telling him to withdraw his bill have won this battle! Romer saw that he had no political support for his complex monstrosity of a bill, and wisely decided to drop his misguided attempt at "regulation" before the legislative
session even started.

Romer writes that his "attempts to bring medical marijuana out of the shadows through a complex regulatory structure are now over." However, Romer says he will still have a medical marijuana bill that will deal with only a few issues. One issue he has identified is the "need for a meaningful doctor patient relationship" to get a medical marijuana recommendation. Hopefully, Romer will not try again to over-step his authority and interfere in the doctor/patient relationship by requiring a government panel to approve recommendations, as he did in his original bill.

Romer also says his bill will allow the "creation of a 24-hour per day registry for patients." CTI is hoping Romer is referring to CTI's repeated requests for 24/7 access for law enforcement to the Medical Marijuana Registry. Currently, law enforcement can only contact the Registry to verify whether a patient is a current member during regular business hours. If a patient has an encounter with law enforcement after 5pm and on weekends, law enforcement cannot contact the Registry to verify a patient's status. This means a lot of patients are going to jail nnecessarily. This is a huge problem for patients and has been for several years.

Romer did say, however, that a bill supported by law enforcement would be introduced in the House that would prohibit a caregiver from serving more than 5 patients. Romer did not name a sponsor for this bill.

"This is a guarded victory for Colorado patients," says Laura Kriho, spokesperson for the Cannabis Therapy Institute, a patient advocacy group. "Romer's bill was clearly a solution in search of a problem. We're glad that Romer is now going to focus on one of the real problems of patients that are still getting arrested and prosecuted. We would encourage him to do more for patients even still, and sponsor a Patient Bill of Rights that would help protect patients from discrimination in areas of housing, employment, probation, veteran's benefits, insurance and other areas."

"On behalf of patients and caregivers, we're happy that Sen. Romer has opted to withdraw his 39 pages of crushing regulations that would have harmed patients," says Rob Corry, Denver attorney and president of the Colorado Wellness Association, a medical cannabis industry trade group. "We are guardedly optimistic that the issues will continue to move in the right direction."

"I'm glad that Senator Romer now sees that excessive government regulations are not needed," says Timothy Tipton of the Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative. "Destroying a fledgling industry before it has even had a chance to take root with excessive government regulation is a recipe for disaster. We need to have time for the dispensing business models to develop, and time for the patients to discover the number and variety of cannabis medicines available to them. Ultimately, the patients will regulate this market, just as consumers regulate any market."


SAFER report: Law Groups Fighting to Maintain Marijuana Prohibition


Law enforcement groups are fighting to maintain Marijuana Prohibition and their industry of arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana. SAFER is fighting back and we need your help.

According to a recent report in The Denver Post, state and federal law enforcement officials have been meddling in Colorado's legislative process in hopes of rolling back the state's progress toward safer, more rational marijuana laws. As a result, bills are being introduced on their behalf, which threaten to shut down every medical marijuana dispensary in the state and allow these officials to continue harassing medical marijuana patients.

We wish this weren't the case, but these law enforcement officials are not motivated by maintaining public safety or developing a workable system of medical marijuana regulation. They are motivated by one thing -- job security. Perhaps even more unsettling is the source of the financial support behind the arrest and prosecution industry's war on marijuana.

In particular, the Colorado Drug Investigators Association (CDIA), the group spearheading anti-marijuana lobbying efforts, is sponsored by several local and national businesses including Starbucks Coffee, Glock handguns, and -- you guessed it -- members of the alcohol industry! This might seem a bit odd, but when you consider the fact that their Web site and merchandise features the grim reaper and military helicopters, a skull motif, and the slogan, "Death on Drugs," it all makes a little more sense. These guys are not out to protect people; they're out to fight a literal war on marijuana, ensuring alcohol -- the substance that contributes most to the crime and violence that keeps them busy -- is the only legal recreational drug available.

It's no surprise that the Arrest and Prosecution Industry is determined to maintain the war on marijuana. But Starbucks and other companies' funding of this war should strike any marijuana consumer or reform supporter as truly appalling. It's time to stand up and send them all a message.

Please Take Action Today!

1. Boycott Starbucks and other sponsors of the CDIA (see below), and CLICK HERE to send Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz an e-mail letting him know you will not be buying Starbucks products until it ends its sponsorship. (Or visit

2. CLICK HERE to send a message to the heads of the organizations below, urging them to end their lobbying and stop harassing people for using a substance far safer than alcohol. (Or visit

Regardless of which action you complete first, you will be given the option of completing the other action, as well. We've provided pre-written messages you can edit or send as they are, then we hope you will spread the word about these actions to as many people as possible.

Meet the Arrest and Prosecution Industry

Colorado Drug Investigators Association (CDIA) -- A non-profit trade group for members of law enforcement whose bread and butter is the enforcement of marijuana laws. Their sponsors include not only major businesses like Starbucks Coffee, but also liquor retailers and manufacturers of handguns and body armor. Paired with a Web site and merchandise reminiscent of the Gestapo (see right), these guys are clearly interested in one thing only: maintaining the war on marijuana. Board President and Denver Police Lt. Ernie Martinez is an outspoken opponent of reform who sits on the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel as the police department's roadblock to enacting SAFER's successful ballot measures.

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) -- The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) -- or Drug Czar's office -- funnels money to this regional organization for the stated purpose of coordinating interdiction and other enforcement efforts. Yet it seems like the group spends far more of its time fighting the movement to reform local, state, and federal marijuana laws. Director Tom Gorman spent countless hours campaigning against SAFER's statewide legalization initiative in 2006, and he is now working hard to abolish medical marijuana dispensaries.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) -- The federal government's primary drug enforcement body, it has a major stake in maintaining the prohibition of the world's most popular illegal drug -- marijuana. Jeffrey Sweetin, the special agent in charge of the Denver field office, has worked to defeat several reform efforts in Colorado, and it was under his watch that agents got caught campaigning against the 2006 statewide initiative.

These organizations point to the proliferation of drug cartels as their reason for opposing medical marijuana and broader reform, but if the drug cartels continue to operate in Colorado, so do they. In fact, the worst thing for these organizations would be a system of state-licensed medical marijuana producers and dispensaries; not because it would cause harm to anyone, but because it would diminish the illegal production and distribution of marijuana.

Make no mistake about it, this is a battle over jobs. Supporters of medical marijuana want to create new legitimate, state-licensed businesses with hundred of new taxpaying employees. CDIA wants to ban these new businesses so that they can continue spending taxpayer money to arrest and prosecute people involved with medical marijuana.

Act TODAY If You Like Your MMJ!

ROB CORRY RESPONSE: Denver's Medical Marijuana Regs Will 'Cause Human Suffering

Yesterday, the Denver City Council passed rules intended to regulate the burgeoning medical marijuana industry -- and most members of the overflow crowd weren't happy with what went down.

That includes Rob Corry, an attorney and medical marijuana advocate. In a previous blog, Corry made it clear he would consider filing a lawsuit against Denver if the ordinance passed without significant change -- which it did. This morning, he reemphasizes that statement.

"If we can assemble an appropriate coalition of patients, caregivers, property owners and business owners, we will evaluate our legal options," Corry says, adding, "We're obviously very disappointed by this unanimous smackdown of patients and our constitutional rights."

Despite these remarks, Corry has at least a few positive things to say about the process.

"I do want to commend some members of the city council for taking this seriously and actually visiting patients and businesses that they seek to regulate personally," he allows. "It's a marked improvement over other municipalities that are like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand and wanting outright bans. Denver isn't the worst player in this field. We appreciate that, and do hope to continue to work with them."

Moreover, he goes on, "this proposal wasn't as bad as the earlier ones. I think there are some aspects of the community that will be able to survive this onerous regulation, and that's a good thing."

Still, he believes, "the overall impact is going to be to harm people and cause human suffering, because patients aren't going to be able to obtain their medicine."

There's also the issue of fairness: "Our patients and the community that has grown to serve them are going to have to meet higher standards, no pun intended, than any other business in Denver history."

In Corry's view, among the most legally vulnerable aspects of the council plan involves "the 1,000 foot perimeter that's around schools, day-care centers and other dispensaries. I don't think there's any rational justification for it, and the fact that they've grandfathered in the early players in the industry, creating a government-sponsored monopoly to businesses that were fortunate and smart enough to get into this early, will only keep out future competition. In some ways, that's even more irrational. The real result is going to be less access and higher costs for patients."

The regulations are scheduled to kick in March 1. Until then, Corry says, "we'll have a month and a half more of freedom -- so I will advise my clients to distribute as much medical marijuana as they possibly can before then." As for a potential lawsuit, "I don't see us filing one this week. We're focused on other things -- and we definitely need plaintiffs with standing who are willing to go to court. But if we can put together a coalition, we'll definitely consider it."

Another option: The medical marijuana community can move forward under the just-approved rules in the hope of softening them down the line. But Corry is dubious about that approach.

"Once government erects regulatory barriers, it's very unlikely that government will back down," he says. "Usually it increases and increases and adds more and more barriers to freedom. I'm usually an optimistic guy, but when you get smacked down by a unanimous city council, it's hard to strike a completely optimistic tone.

"People who've worked in this industry for years and years, engaging in caregiving activities, are going to find this will create difficulties for them. That's the reality: greater difficulties and greater cost -- especially that $5,000 fee to even walk through the door. That gets passed on to patients, and a lot of them aren't wealthy people. They're disabled, or they're on fixed income. And their medicine is just going to get more and more expensive because of the burdens the government has placed on the industry."

Proving that the medical marijuana business can operate under the latest regs "may result in some increased legitimacy for our community," Corry admits. "That may bring about a good result from this." But at the same time, "our industry needs to resist the temptation to claim victory when we don't have a victory. And I don't think this is a victory."