By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
A medical marijuana patient may use no more than four primary caregivers during a given year, and a medical marijuana review board must look twice at medical marijuana applications from people under the age of 21 under the latest version of Sen. Chris Romer’s proposed medical marijuana reform bill.
Romer is leading the fight on the state level to introduce regulation to the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry. The Cannabis Therapy Institute (CTI), a medical marijuana lobbying group, blasted Romer’s efforts for supposedly getting in between patients and their doctors. The group argued that people under the age of 21 shouldn’t have to endure an “embarrassing hearing.” The group also disagrees that patients should be limited in the number of caregivers they can visit, saying that people aren’t limited to seeing a certain number of doctors in a given year.
“I don’t think that will help patients in any way,” said Laura Kriho, public relations coordinator for CTI. “The problem with what Romer is trying to do is that he’s creating a solution that’s in search of a problem. We do not have a problem right now.”
Meanwhile, Andy Cookston of Cannabis Medical, one of Denver’s oldest medical marijuana dispensaries, disagreed with Kriho. He believes that many of Romer’s proposals — including limiting patients annually to four caregivers and having a review board look at applications from people under the age of 21 — are largely good ideas.
“From my perspective I think regulation is goodÉthere has to be law that people have to follow so there can be order in the business,” he said.
For his part, Romer said that many people he has talked with worry about younger people getting their hands on medical marijuana. He believes the easiest way to prevent that is to ensure that it’s relatively difficult for people under the age of 21 to procure the drug. Military veterans seeking a medical marijuana card under the age of 21 would be exempt from having their case go before a medical review board under Romer’s bill.
As for limiting patients to four caregivers a year, Romer said he doesn’t want patients shopping around for which dispensary or clinic is giving away a free gram of the latest strain of medical marijuana. Additionally, limiting the patients to four caregivers would make it easier to sustain electronic records of the patients, he said.
Romer has made headlines for saying that his bill would likely put 50 percent of medical marijuana dispensaries out of business. But he clarified to the Denver Daily News that he believes those dispensaries would have gone out of business anyway because they are poorly run and don’t serve their patients’ needs, and that his bill would only expedite the process.
Local level first
Romer’s bill would create a state medical marijuana licensing authority within the Colorado Department of Revenue. The state licensing authority would grant, refuse and renew licenses for medical marijuana clinics and growers after the licensee has received a local license.
Under Councilman Charlie Brown’s proposed ordinance as it currently stands, medical marijuana dispensaries would have to pay a $2,000 application fee and an annual $3,000 fee to get a local license. The dispensaries must be at least 500 feet away from any school or childcare establishment, and 1,000 feet from another dispensary.
Additionally, the Denver City Council Safety Committee tentatively agreed last week that felons who haven’t been free for more than five years would not be allowed to open a medical marijuana dispensary.
Brown is hoping that starting March 1, every medical marijuana dispensary will be required to have a license from the city. Any dispensary that wouldn’t be licensed by that point would be operating illegally.
The Safety Committee will look at Brown’s ordinance again on Dec. 16. The ordinance is expected to be up for final consideration by the entire city council next month.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters