|Graphic: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol|
|Photo: Denver Westword|
|Mason Tvert: “Parents should support this”|
|Graphic: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol|
|Photo: Denver Westword|
|Mason Tvert: “Parents should support this”|
The article below by the Associated Press details some of the new regulations going into effect on July 1 regarding medical marijuana in Colorado. These new regulations have patients very concerned about their
MMC-applicants are now required to have video cameras record every transaction in an MMC or a production facility. MMCs are also helping the Department of Revenue track every patient purchase from “seed to sale” in a massive law enforcement database to ensure that patients do not get “too much” medicine.
These videos and transaction records will be available to all law enforcement, including the DEA, on demand, without a warrant, and without notification to patients that their information has been released to the police.
The AP story also details a stunning new revelation that the DOR apparently does not intend on issuing any licenses to MMCs until July 2012. This means that every dispensary in the state will continue to operate in a gray area of the law: MMCs have no state license, and they also have no Constitutional protection. (MMCs revoked their right to be a caregiver under the Constitution in order to apply to become an MMC.)
If an MMC is selling marijuana in Colorado without a license, there is the potential that the DOR will at some point deny them a license and target them as a criminal enterprise. If this happens, anyone that shopped or
worked at the unlicensed MMC may be put under criminal investigation as well.
MMC employees are being asked to surrender large volumes of personal and financial information to the DOR and submit to an extensive criminal background investigation, including photographs and fingerprints sent to
the FBI. Westword reported in two articles today about the rush for employees to register with the DOR. But many are questioning the intelligence of this, because none of the MMC-employers have been granted state licenses. This means employees are signing up to work at UNLICENSED, potentially “criminal” businesses, for the next year.
CTI encourages all patients and MMC-applicant-employees to CONSULT AN ATTORNEY before they continue to shop or work at an MMC after July 1 to make sure that their privacy rights and 4th and 5th amendment rights are preserved.
The Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project is working to overturn these laws. Please contribute to:
DENVER – Colorado’s marijuana industry will become the nation’s most regulated later this week, and pot shops are scrambling to comply with new seed-to-sale tracking, shorter business hours and mandatory video
surveillance for growing plants and finished products.
Some of the requirements, such as a grow-your-own regulation forcing pot shops to grow 70 percent of the pot they sell, have already taken effect. But most rules will kick in Friday, including background checks for
everyone working around medical marijuana to screen out drug felons.
Other rules include video surveillance of both growing marijuana plants and finished pot products, a move to make sure medical pot doesn’t end up on the black market. The state also plans to enforce a statewide 8 p.m. closing time for pot shops.
Colorado also is imposing registration requirements on caregivers, people who grow for up to five patients. Caregivers fought unsuccessfully in the state Legislature this year to keep their growing sites and what they’re growing private. Some pot growers vow to drop out of the system rather than face state oversight.
“I see the caregiver model pretty much evaporating,” said Adam Mayo, an attorney in Steamboat Springs who advises marijuana patients, growers and shop owners.
Instead, Mayo said, caregivers may choose to stop growing plants for patients and instead offer them warehouse space to grow their own allotment of six plants each. Because patients are not required to tell the state where they’re growing their pot plants, Mayo said a marijuana collective such as a communal warehouse wouldn’t violate state law.
“You could charge them just like you’d charge a tenant,” Mayo said of patients.
It’s an option a few caregivers and even dispensary owners are taking seriously.
“I’m not crazy about going on a registry that might be obsolete in a couple years,” said Bret Kantola, a Denver caregiver who currently raises plants for two people but said he’s getting out rather than register. Kantola cited shifting signals from the federal government on marijuana and a confusing state regulatory framework.
“It’s been very, very turbulent, and it’s been one thing after another,” Kantola said of Colorado’s efforts to regulate the pot business.
The owner of two dispensaries in Lafayette, Veronica Caprio of 420 Highways, said she plans to close her shops and start a collective. She decried Colorado’s regulations as intrusive for marijuana patients.
“It’s complete unknown territory, this Big Brother tracking,” Caprio said.
A spokeswoman for the state’s Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, which oversees many of the pot regulations, said collectives may be illegal. Julie Postlethwait said a collective growing site would fall under state regulations if the site were under a single person or group’s control.
Caregivers who want to try collective growing say they’re prepared to test the state. Timothy Tipton, a Denver caregiver, says he’s starting a collective and plans to sublease plots to patients who won’t be allowed
to sell or even give away pot they grow so they can avoid state oversight.
“It allows patients who are upset with all the regulation going on here to maintain their constitutional rights” to grow and use pot, Tipton said. “We have the constitutional right to do this, and we’re not giving up.”
Maybe so, but not all caregivers are as outspoken as Tipton. Tipton organizes an annual pot-tasting contest called the Caregivers’ Cup, which planned its final contest in Denver on Sunday. He said about 1,000 patients
a year have shown up at the celebration to sample and rate pot strains but caregivers are wary of public attention and have said they won’t participate after the registration requirements take effect.
Marijuana advocates, along with state officials and lawmakers who approved the rules, are divided about what the oversight will mean for medical marijuana in Colorado. Sponsors of the regulatory bill last year boasted that the rules would drive half the state’s 800 or so dispensaries out of business. But more than 700 of them have applied for state licenses, due to be issued in July of 2012.
Ryan Cook, general manager of three dispensaries in Denver called The Clinic, said patients haven’t complained as much as he feared about increased video surveillance, a mandatory 8 p.m. closing time and a
requirement that patients’ marijuana registry cards be scanned every time they buy pot.
“I get a sense from patients they’re accepting the requirements,” Cook said. “We’ll see how it evolves, but right now, people just want a safe and affordable way to get their meds.”
But at a recent marijuana legalization debate in Denver, pot advocate Rico Colibri of the Association of Cannabis Trades warned that increased tracking and surveillance could turn out badly if the federal government hanges course on deferring to states that allow medical pot.
“There could be scary things happening to people here very soon,” Colibri said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released the latest data about medical marijuana patients in the state, and the numbers are fascinating. As of March 31, the most recent date available, 137,556 people have applied to the patient registry, and 123,890 — most of them male — have valid registry ID cards.
Among the cliches exploded by the digits is the theory that the registry is dominated with teens and twenty-somethings who are faking medical problems in order to purchase weed legally. According to the CDPHE, the average age of a patient in Colorado is forty — 39 for men, 42 for women. Moreover, only forty patients in the entire state are minors, meaning that they’re younger than age eighteen. Males represent 69 percent of all registry-card holders.
Another surprising statistic involves doctors who’ve suggested that patients try cannabis to address their medical conditions. More than 1,100 doctors in the state have written MMJ recommendations — a greater number than many observers would have likely predicted.
The vast majority of patients — 56 percent — live in the Denver metro area, which includes Boulder. But patients can be found in virtually every corner of the state, including some of Colorado’s least populous counties: sixteen in Kiowa County, nineteen in Jackson County, 35 in Lincoln County. Most list severe pain as a qualifying condition, with smaller numbers citing muscle spasms, nausea, cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc. Around 63 percent have designated a primary caregiver.
Look below to see the county-by-county patient breakdown, plus totals involving conditions and user characteristics:
Table 1: County Information:
Table 2: Conditions:
Table 3: User Characteristics:
DENVER – Paul Curry says his seven years at MillerCoors came to an abrupt end with one simple conversation.
“They just told me to pack my bags. They brought in security, I emptied out my locker and they told me to go home,” he said.
While MillerCoors cannot comment on the decision to let Curry go, Curry says he was told he was being fired because he had just tested positive for marijuana. Not a surprise, says Curry.
“I’ve been on the [medical marijuana registry] for about a year,” he said.
“All he had was one single positive UA for THC which means that he had used marijuana in that last 30 days. That’s all it means,” Curry’s attorney Rob Corry said.
Corry has made a living advocating on behalf of medical marijuana users over the last few years.
“He’s a medical marijuana patient. He’s trying to follow his doctor’s orders, and he’s trying to do everything he can to manage his [pain],” Corry said.
Corry and Curry insist that the one-time MillerCoors maintenance mechanic was not “high” in any way at the time of the test. They also say his usage was never a factor in his job performance.
As of Tuesday afternoon, MillerCoors had yet to respond to numerous inquiries from 9NEWS, but because the issue falls into the realm of “personnel matters,” it was unlikely to say much about its decision to let Curry go regardless.
On Tuesday, Corry and Curry came to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in an effort to secure Curry unemployment benefits. Curry has previously been denied the benefits because of the nature of his dismissal.
Curry and Corry met with a hearing officer for the department. Corry says a decision should come in a few weeks.
A decision made last year by the Colorado Industrial Claim Appeals Office (ICAO) indicates they will likely have a difficult time succeeding in obtaining the benefits. The ICAO is part of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and last year issued an opinion that denied unemployment benefits to an unnamed person who was fired after testing positive for marijuana.
“When the Department of Labor issued that opinion, it decided to take a position on that issue,” Holland and Hart employment attorney Emily Hobbs-Wright said.
9NEWS spoke with Hobbs-Wright and fellow Holland and Hart attorney Alyssa Yatsko on Tuesday about the ramifications of the ICAO opinion. Both agreed the decision should not be taken lightly by employees who currently use medical marijuana.
“It’s definitely a risk if you choose to use medical marijuana. It could impact your job,” Hobbs-Wright said.
Amendment 20 (the amendment to the Colorado Constitution that allows the use of medical marijuana on the state level) does include language that offers at least some insight here. It reads, in part, “Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place.”
That section, based upon the ICAO opinion, has now been interpreted by some to indicate that employees will be at risk for termination should they test positive for marijuana while in the workplace, even when it’s not even presumed that they’re under the influence of marijuana at the time of the test.
As of its last report in late March, the state indicated there were 123,890 people on the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry.
9NEWS Legal Analyst Scott Robinson says there appears to be plenty of grey area here.
“The number of individuals alone who are using medical marijuana guarantees that this issue will be a hotbed of litigation for years to come,” he said. “The marijuana issue is unique. It’s the only substance in the entire country which is legal locally but illegal everywhere,” he added, pointing to federal law which still outlaws the use and distribution of marijuana.