Colorado's Medical Marijuana Laws Maybe Revisited

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Colorado is quickly becoming known nationally as the state with the most liberal marijuana laws, even as apposed to California. This could be fact or just an impression. Read below and see what others are saying about the marijuana laws in Colorado.

A bill introduced in the House earlier this month would require dispensaries to be designated as state nonprofits and would allow cities to regulate or ban dispensaries at their discretion. House Bill 1284 is sponsored by Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and would also impose a one-year moratorium on the opening of new medical marijuana centers.

The owner of Jane Medicals at the Denver-Aurora borderline is one of many dispensary owners that might have to adapt to the proposed legislation or face being run out of business in the coming weeks.

"What they're trying to do is keep businesses from actually flourishing in this industry," said the owner, who goes by the name James Hale. Hale doesn't use his real name because he's enrolled at the University of Denver's law school and fears that pending state legislation might damage his prospects of finding a job in the future. He opened Jane Medicals four weeks ago. "I don't understand the rational basis behind a lot of things they are proposing."

Another proposal, Senate Bill 109, would tighten restrictions for patients seeking medical marijuana and doctors approving it for them. Hale says he agrees with some of that bill's provisions but thinks legislators ultimately want to limit or ban dispensaries.

"There are people that are abusing the system but that is not a reason to deny all the people that really need it," said Hale, "We have many, many patients that have real issues like migraines, chronic soreness, depression, fatigue, injuries ... Just because people abuse the system is no reason to get rid of the system."

Dispensaries shouldn't be treated any differently than liquor stores or pharmacies, which are for-profit businesses, he said.

Massey says a change to a nonprofit model will not prevent dispensary owners from making money.

"In essence, it changes their name and sets up a little different model for them, but they can still operate within the parameters of a regulated structure," Massey said. "If ( they ) adhere to the regulatory model we put in place, they stay in business." His bill would also require dispensaries to grow their own marijuana or purchase it from another licensed medical marijuana center, as well as require the businesses to report and pay monthly sales taxes. People growing and supplying marijuana to five or fewer patients would be protected under the bill.

Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, sponsor of S.B. 109, says the Legislature is simply trying to find a middle ground in the medical marijuana debate.

"There are going to be people on both sides of this debate who will be disappointed in the bill," he said. "We're going to figure out something in the middle that's going to be a set of common-sense rules for a new industry."

His bill would prohibit doctors from being paid by dispensaries to write recommendations for medical marijuana, and it would require doctors to assess the patient's medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam before recommending medical marijuana to him or her.

The bill has passed through the House Judiciary Committee and is also incorporated in Massey's bill.

Hale argues that some patients might not be able to afford doctor's visits and would therefore obtain medical marijuana illegally.

"That's a legitimate point," Sen. Romer said. "We're particularly worried about veterans who by definition cannot have their primary physician write their prescription. I'm particularly sympathetic to that, and I'm hoping that medical marijuana centers or clinics will create a policy where they'll reimburse veterans for their medical marijuana expenses."

But Rep. Massey says Hale's argument is invalid.

"If you have a problem with having a physical exam before you're given a recommendation then I would have to question your authenticity," he said.

Local medical marijuana advocacy groups are paying close attention to the language in the proposed bills, making sure that patients' rights are at the forefront of legislators' minds.

One of the main concerns for Brian Vicente, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Sensible Colorado, is the provision in Massey's bill that cities can ban dispensaries at their discretion.

"We think that just simply hurts patients," he said.

Ultimately, Vicente believes that the dispensary model will not be threatened because voters will not allow that.

"I think we have a good chance of protecting the dispensary model, that's generally the best way for sick people to access medical marijuana," he said. "We also feel confident that if we're forced to go to a vote of the people statewide, that we will win."

Polls show about 65 percent of Coloradoans support regulated dispensaries, he said.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates has advised city council members at committee meetings to oppose a dispensary model because he says there is crime associated with the proliferation of dispensaries.

Vicente says his group receives dozens of calls each year from patients who would like to see medical marijuana dispensaries in Aurora.

Thus far, applications for marijuana dispensary licenses have been denied in Aurora.

"There's a growing frustrating that city councils, like Aurora's, aren't looking out for the best interest of their sick citizens," he said. "It's our hope that we can take action at the state level to make sure that people in places like Aurora get protected."

thanks for this article paublished in Feb. 2010 by Aurora Sentinel

PHYSICIAN ARRESTED FOR DRUG TRAFFICING

On November 19,2009, federal prosecutors announced that Dr. Peter W.S. Grigg was sentenced to five years of probation and 180 days of home detention for illegally distributing prescription drugs. Dr. Grigg was an anesthesiologist at Memorial Hospital. According to legal records, Grigg met with undercover police to sell them Osycodone, Fentanyl and Ecstasy.

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