By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Medical marijuana advocates believe that today’s court hearing in Centennial could shape the future of the booming medical marijuana industry in Colorado.
In October the City of Centennial revoked the business license of CannaMart after learning that the business was a medical marijuana dispensary. In turn, two caregivers and three patients from the dispensary sued the city in hopes of having the decision overturned. The case could prove a landmark decision on whether cities can use home rule authority to ban dispensaries from operating within city limits, even though voters approved the use of medical marijuana by seriously ill patients in 2000.
“Already, this case has garnered tremendous national interest, and not just for its potential impact on medical marijuana patients and caregivers,” said a statement form plaintiffs’ attorney Robert J. Corry, Jr. “This is so much bigger than medical marijuana. It’s about whether a local government can circumvent a voter approved state constitutional amendment to prohibit an entire industry from operating at all.”
Centennial attorneys claimed in Friday’s initial hearing that cities could ban dispensaries because they violate federal law. Although President Barack Obama’s administration in October sent a memo urging federal prosecutors to back off cases against medical marijuana patients, the drug is still considered illegal on the federal level. Additionally, city attorneys said that CannaMart lied on its application for a business license.
However, the plaintiff’s team of four attorneys argue that home rule municipalities, including Centennial, cannot prohibit certain rights within municipalities — including medical marijuana — that are otherwise protected under the state constitution as “matters of statewide concern.”
Although CannaMart was only open several weeks, ankylosing spondylitis patient Shannon Mosher said he already started feeling at home at the location. He uses medical marijuana to treat the chronic pain that derives from a genetic disease that breaks down tissue and infuses it with bone. He said that the CannaMart owners went out of their way to discount the marijuana for him, picked him up when he needed a ride, and kept track of his symptoms.
“These guys were very compassionate and took extra time to learn about my disease,” he said.
Mosher was less impressed when he went to check out other dispensaries after CannaMart was shut down on Oct. 19. The other dispensaries made him feel uncomfortable because they were more impersonal, had more patients and didn’t have visible security measures, he said. Additionally, they are further away from him than CannaMart, which provides a problem since he is handicapped and doesn’t have a car.
“(Today’s case) is going to change everything,” he said. “It’s definitely going to change the face of medical marijuana in Colorado.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters