Colorado pot advocates oppose marijuana regulations
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – Medical marijuana advocates are fighting a proposal to regulate Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries, saying the bill goes too far to restrict people’s right to use the drug.
They say one provision of the revised proposal, banning pot possession within 1,000 feet of a school, could prevent people from using medical pot in their homes. Another wouldn’t allow them to grow their own medical marijuana if they chose to buy it at a dispensary.
“We’re pretty upset that after months of negotiations, we’ve reached a point where this bill wholesale sells patients out for the interests of dispensaries and law enforcement,” said Brian Vicente, the executive director of Sensible Colorado.
His group is preparing to ask voters to pass an alternative plan this fall if they think lawmakers go too far.
Dispensaries have won some concessions in the latest proposal, which would allow them to continue to operate as for-profit businesses. However, they’re still concerned about a rule that would only allow them to buy 25 percent of their medical marijuana from another shop because not every dispensary owner wants to grow their own pot.
Sponsors Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, want dispensaries to mainly grow their own supply so the state can make sure that the marijuana is indeed being used as medicine.
Law enforcement groups, including Attorney General John Suthers, oppose any regulations of dispensaries because they don’t want retail marijuana shops to be recognized by the law.
Massey initially sided with law enforcement and intended to limit people to growing marijuana for just a handful of people, a move that would have shut down dispensaries. But he said he changed his mind because he didn’t think that would pass and because he didn’t think it’s feasible for the growing number of medical marijuana patients to grow their own.
He said that number could hit 100,000 by the time lawmakers adjourn in May.
“It didn’t make sense to have 100,000 people growing in their own basement,” he said.
If regulations are passed, the bill currently calls for a yearlong moratorium on new dispensaries to give time for state officials to implement the new regulatory system. All dispensaries, old and new, would then have to get state and local licenses. Legislative analysts expect 1,100 dispensaries to apply.
Voters could also vote to ban them in their municipality, but such bans could only be proposed once every four years.
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