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.

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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.