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."


Are Denver's New Regulations Too Strict?

Denver's City Council approved a broad set of regulations for the city's booming medical-marijuana industry Monday night over the objections of dozens of cannabis advocates who say the rules clamp down too hard on their businesses.

The regulations require the licensing of medical-marijuana dispensaries, impose 1,000-foot buffers between the shops and schools or child-care facilities, bar on-site marijuana consumption, mandate certain security procedures and prohibit felons from opening a dispensary.

"We did our jobs, and we should hold our heads high for what we were able to do in this first phase," said Councilman Charlie Brown, who pushed for the ordinance.

The council unanimously approved the ordinance at the close of a nearly four-hour meeting. During the public hearing that preceded the vote, dozens of dispensary owners, medical-marijuana patients and cannabis advocates urged the council to reject the regulations, calling them unconstitutional and over-reaching.

Speakers particularly singled out the 1,000-foot buffers, which medical-marijuana lawyer Rob Corry said amount to a "de facto ban" on new dispensaries in Denver. Other speakers focused on the Dec. 15, 2009, cutoff date for dispensaries to be exempted from the spacing requirements, saying that it is unconstitutionally retroactive and would force hundreds of businesses to close their doors.

"Many of these regulations are not reasonable regulations," attorney Lauren Davis told council members. "They are strangulations that will hurt patients and caregivers."

A smaller number of Denver residents — including a trio of moms from the Stapleton neighborhood concerned about plans for a dispensary to open several hundred feet from a school — spoke in favor of the ordinance, arguing for even tougher spacing restrictions. They cited concerns about crime at dispensaries. Council members said they received phone calls and e-mails from many more residents expressing concerns about the explosion of dispensaries.

"What about the exposure of our children to this kind of activity and crime that has accompanied some dispensaries?" Christie Gosch asked council members.

A number of council members, while supporting the ordinance, also acknowledged that it represented more of a starting point for Denver's medical-marijuana regulations than a finish line.

"This is a very hard issue; this is the first time we've ever had to deal with this," said Councilman Paul Lopez. "It's not going to be perfect. We're going to work on this in the years to come."

Legislative shift

Monday's action capped a dramatic handful of days for Colorado's work-in-progress medical-marijuana policy.

Over the weekend, state Sen. Chris Romer, a Denver Democrat who was drafting a regulatory bill that he said he hoped would strike a compromise between the pro-pot and anti-pot camps, yanked most of his proposal from consideration, scolding both sides for being intractable. Medical-marijuana advocates cheered the move Monday — many had been opposed to the bill anyway.

But it also meant that the only dispensary regulatory proposal remaining before state lawmakers is a stricter one backed by law enforcement officials that would eliminate medical-marijuana dispensaries altogether.

Teamwork urged

Brown urged cannabis advocates to be flexible in negotiating for regulations, saying that the possibility of dramatic changes to Colorado medical-marijuana law loomed. Denver's ordinance would defer to state law, should the state adopt stricter regulations.

"If you believe in the dispensary model — and I believe in the dispensary model — you better start working now to save it," Brown said.

Medical-marijuana advocates reiterated their threats to go to court and to the voters if they feel the legislature's regulations unlawfully clamp down on their industry. Threats of lawsuits surfaced during Denver's adoption of the new regulations Monday night, as well.

Stan Zislis, the owner of a Centennial dispensary that successfully won a preliminary injunction against an effort to shut it down, warned Denver council members that dispensaries would take the city to court if the regulations were approved.

"You are inviting lawsuits," Zislis said.

Denver assistant city attorney David Broadwell, though, told the council that the ordinance was within the city's authority and did not violate the constitution. The city is allowed to create regulations that apply to existing businesses, he said. He explained that legal prohibitions against retroactive laws are intended to apply to laws that attempt to criminalize past behavior rather than regulate it.

Councilman Michael Hancock said he understands the council didn't please cannabis advocates with the ordinance but said council members made a genuine effort to work with them.

"Denver did not say no," he said. "Denver could have said no to dispensaries as other cities have done. Denver did not."

Attorney Rob Corry's Comments on Sen. Romer's State Bill

The Cannabis Therapy Institute reports:

Attorney Rob Corry today released his 12-page initial analysis of Sen.
Romer's 39-page bill to regulate the medical marijuana industry in
Colorado. Corry correctly states that Romer's bill "cannot be supported by
any serious patient or caregiver in Colorado's Medical Marijuana
community." Corry says Romer's bill would "significantly increase costs to
patients, thereby placing the most vulnerable of them in danger" and
"reduce the selection and consistency of medicine, driving most of the
supply back to the dangerous criminal underground."

Click here to read Rob Corry's letter in its entirety:

Click here to read Sen. Romer's bill:

Corry continues, "This community is not opposed to reasonable regulations
designed to help patients, but will oppose those that will restrict supply
or quality."

The Cannabis Therapy Institute concurs with and supports all of the
conclusions made by Rob Corry in his letter to Senator Romer, dated January
7, 2010.

Click here to contact your state senators and representatives and express
your concerns about the bill:

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


Denver Crowned New MMJ Capital!

(NORML reports)
Denver now appears to have more marijuana dispensaries than liquor stores, Starbucks coffee shops or public schools, according to city and corporate records.

A push by City Council members to regulate the medical marijuana industry and restrict where dispensaries can locate appears to have prompted a surge in sales-tax license applications, city officials say.

As of last week, Denver had issued more than 300 sales-tax licenses for dispensaries. That number slightly exceeds the number of Starbucks coffee shops in Denver and surrounding areas, calculated within a 50-mile radius. It is roughly twice the number of the city's public schools. It exceeds the number of retail liquor stores in Denver by about a third.

The pace picked up, acting City Treasurer Steve Ellington said, after the council put the public on notice that restrictions are coming on where new dispensaries can set up shop. ( The increase also followed an opinion from Attorney General John Suthers that medical marijuana was not exempt from sales-tax laws. )

At least 170 of the dispensaries got sales-tax licenses in December.

Ellington said his office is getting about 25 sales-tax applications a day for dispensaries.

That pace prompted the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws to recently name Denver "America's Cannabis Capital."

On a per capita basis, there are now slightly more medical marijuana dispensaries with a sales-tax license in Denver than there are dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles, where medical marijuana has attracted national media attention.

To receive a Denver sales-tax license, dispensaries must show they have a location where they plan to do business and must show they plan to open up within 90 days.

Possessing a license doesn't mean a dispensary is operating, but that its owners have applied to collect taxes at a specific location within 90 days.

The state constitution's Amendment 20, passed by voters in 2000, legalized medical marijuana. The amendment created a patient registry but did not specify how the system of "caregivers" would be set up. As a result, dispensaries have cropped up across the state, offering medical marijuana with little or no regulation or zoning.

New regulations under consideration could reshape the dimensions of the medical marijuana industry in Denver.

A majority of the Denver City Council seems intent on restricting dispensaries from locating within 1,000 feet of one another. Most council members also want to ban dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of schools or child-care facilities.

The council met in committee recently and grappled with determining a deadline for when those new restrictions should take effect. The committee ended up forwarding to the full council a proposal that would allow those dispensaries that had a sales-tax license on or before Jan. 1, 2010, to escape the new distance requirements.

Some council members wanted an earlier deadline, which would winnow down the number of dispensaries.

If the council moved the sales-tax deadline up to before Dec. 1, more than 100 of the dispensaries would be in violation of the new distance regulations, the treasury department determined.

Councilman Charlie Brown, who is pushing the package of regulations, said he now wants to move the active sales-tax deadline to Dec. 15 as a compromise between council members wanting a tighter deadline and those who want looser restrictions. The treasury department is preparing a new analysis that would determine how that Dec. 15 deadline would affect dispensaries.

Brown said he thinks the marketplace will end up thinning out many of those rushing to get into the dispensary business anyway and will bring the number of dispensaries down to a lower level. He adds that new criminal background checks that the council probably will require also probably will shut down some operators.

The full council is scheduled to meet Monday to give initial consideration to the regulations, which would bar people who have completed any portion of a felony sentence within the past five years from opening a dispensary.

The regulations also would bar on-site consumption of medical marijuana at dispensaries.

The council is scheduled to meet again Jan. 11 for a public hearing and final consideration of the new regulations.