How News Orgs Covered Wednesday’s Medical-Marijuana Hearing

Photo: Jamie Cotten
Sen. Chris Romer at Wednesday’s hearing.

Here’s how Colorado news organizations covered Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Health Committee. The topic was SB10-109.

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The Denver Post: A bill that would tighten regulations for patients seeking medical marijuana and the doctors approving it for them passed its first test at the state Capitol today. “This is the beginning of the end of the wild west” for Colorado’s medical-marijuana industry, bill sponsor Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said.

Denver Business Journal: Many dispensary owners testified in favor of Romer’s bill Wednesday, saying it established legal perimeters for a growing industry with an uncertain future. Some fear that letting the medical marijuana market continue to operate with few guidelines will create the kind of chaos that prompted the Los Angeles city council to pass an ordinance to shut down most dispensaries within city limits.

State Bill Colorado: Attorney General John Suthers and other law enforcement officials testified in support of the bill. “We have to provide a line between those who legitimately need medical marijuana and those who exploit it,” said Sgt. Jim Gearhart of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association.

Colorado News Agency: It was standing room only yesterday at the State Capitol in a room used for capacity crowds as lawmakers took up the first — and probably not the last — bill this session aimed at regulating constitutionally approved medical marijuana in Colorado. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed Senate Bill 109 on a 6-1 vote, a move that didn’t sit well with a number of medical-marijuana patients and advocates who converged on the hearing to urge lawmakers against encroaching on a statewide vote in 2000 that legalized the substance’s use for pain and other maladies.

9News: Under the proposal, doctors have to give medical marijuana patients a physical exam and provide follow up care. Those under 21 need to get the approval of two doctors.

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: More than 100 people packed a Senate committee room to tell lawmakers why they liked or disliked the idea of regulating the growing industry, particularly in addressing how doctors should handle patients seeking the right to smoke the weed, which the law limits to people with chronic pain. Josh Stanley, a founding member of Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation and a dispensary owner in Denver, told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee the measure would go a long way toward ensuring doctors hand out medical marijuana cards only to those patients who need it.

Associated Press: Most of the 150 people at the hearing opposed the bill. Many of them worry it will cost them hundreds of dollars on top of the $90 annual fee they pay to register as a medical marijuana user. William Chengelis said he can’t get his regular Veterans Administration doctors to sign off on medical marijuana and said buying pot illegally and paying the $100 fine would be cheaper than paying a private doctor for follow-up visits.

Westword: After listening to the testimony of two dozen people, along with the opinions of another ten or so, the committee finally voted to approve the bill, 6-1. It will now move on to the senate floor, where it will be tinkered with more. Romer pledged to work with the members of the committee to address some of the affordability issues. He acknowledged that the bill isn’t perfect, but said, to the displeasure of the crowd, that it is the “the beginning of the end of the wild west.”

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