State lawmakers are closing in on a final bill to regulate Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries. The bill is a major piece of legislation and lawmakers hope to pass it before the session ends.
When the debate over how to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries began there were so many issues, for some lawmakers it was like grabbing smoke. Their goal is to legally balance the issues of legitimate caregivers and patients with concerns from law enforcement that the dispensary business has grown out of control.
Now lawmakers have three days left to pass a bill and send it on to Gov. Bill Ritter.
Sen. Chris Romer believes his medical marijuana bill lawmakers are poised to pass will put about half of the state’s 600 existing dispensaries out of business.
“For two reasons, one, either they have a felony conviction, or two, they can’t prove where their investment or cash came from,” Romer said.
The bill also requires existing dispensaries to grow 70 percent of their supply so law enforcement knows where the drug is coming from. Medical marijuana advocates are not happy about that part of the bill.
“There are a lot of strains out there and a lot of them provide different relief for different conditions, and if you have essentially one dispensary growing all its own medicine, it’s really not going to provide the variety patients need,” Brian Vicente with Sensible Colorado said.
The state Senate also voted to keep the locations of pot-growing operations off-limits to the public to help protect grow operations from being burglarized. Only law enforcement would have access to that information.
“I think it’s a common-sense move to not have that be a public document, you know marijuana is a valuable commodity and I don’t think it’s smart to put it out there for any potential thieves to know about,” Vicente said.
But Attorney General John Suthers says people have a right to know if there’s a pot-growing operation in their neighborhood. Romer says it won’t be a problem.
“The issue is that your city council has the right to insure it’s never grown for commercial purposes in residential or commercial areas. If I were on a city council or if I were mayor the only place in my town you’d be able to grow would be in industrial warehouses, so that’s the way to control this, Romer said.
The House will take up the remaining issues when it reconsiders the Senate bill later this week. Romer believes they’ll end up with overdue regulations on a business few envisioned when voters approved medical marijuana 10 years ago.
“I think the House will concur with this bill and I think the governor will then sign it,” he said.
Medical marijuana advocates say if lawmakers can’t craft a bill that protects their interests they would consider going to the ballot to legalize marijuana altogether. The state of California has such a proposal on its ballot this fall.[Written by Terry Jessup from Source]