Representative Tom Massey's bill to regulate the medical marijuana industry -- previewed in this blog based on comments from a knowledgeable source and a second item containing insight from advocate Matt Brown -- hasn't even been made public yet; Massey will do so at a 1:30 p.m. event. But already, there's significant fallout.
Prime example: Sensible Colorado, an organization led by Brian Vicente (the co-chair, with Brown, of Sensible Patient and Provider Coalition), is announcing that it plans to place an initiative on the 2010 Colorado ballot intended to "secure patient access to medical marijuana."
The idea: To let voters establish regulations kinder to the medical marijuana industry than those likely to be passed by legislators. Look below to see a draft measure of the initiative and learn more about a Thursday press conference at which the mission will be formally launched.
Sensible Colorado press release:
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Sensible Colorado to File Statewide Ballot Initiative to Regulate Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
As state legislature considers restrictions, group acts to secure patient access to medical marijuana
DENVER, CO -- On Thursday, February 4, at the Office of Legislative Council in the State Capitol, Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado Action, the state's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization, will file a statewide ballot initiative to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and production facilities. In the face of threats by state officials to restrict and destroy dispensaries, this initiative will amend the Colorado Constitution to require the state legislature to establish comprehensive regulations governing this emerging health care industry. (Note draft initiative language is attached. Final language available at Thursday press conference). The campaign will need to file over 75,000 signatures by July in order to qualify for the November 2010 ballot.
"State-licensed medical marijuana patients need storefront dispensaries in the same way that other sick Coloradans need pharmacies," said Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente, the initiative's chief proponent. "Medical marijuana patients will not go without medicine in Colorado. This initiative will establish sensible regulations for dispensaries and secure the rights of sick Coloradans to have safe access to their constitutionally-protected medicine."
The initiated language directs the General Assembly to establish a uniform licensing system for both medical marijuana dispensing facilities and medical marijuana production facilities. It calls for licensing fees and security requirements and authorizes considerable local control over issues such as location and signage.
"With certain members of the legislature and law enforcement contemplating actions that would cause serious harm to patients, we want to make sure that we have a means of reversing such actions, should they actually occur," said Vicente. "It is a mystery to us why members of law enforcement would want to eliminate dispensaries and force patients who are unable to find a personal caregiver back into an underground market. But we are certainly not going to allow it to happen. We plan to lobby against any legislation that would hinder the operations of locally approved dispensaries. And if we must, we will push for passage of this constitutional amendment."
Colorado voters passed a medical marijuana law in 2000, and there are currently around 30,000 state-licensed medical marijuana patients in the state-- many of whom are served by storefront dispensaries. A number of Colorado towns-- including Denver-- have passed local dispensary regulations.
WHO: Brian Vicente executive director of Sensible Colorado Action c(4)
WHAT: Press conference to discuss details of the initiative
WHEN: Thursday, February 4 at 11:00am
WHERE: West steps of the Capitol, Denver, CO.
Be it enacted by the people of the state of Colorado
Article XVIII, Section 14, of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended by the addition of a new subsection to read:
(12) (a) To ensure that each patient has a safe and reliable source of marijuana, persons shall have the right to operate and to obtain a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensing facility or a medical marijuana production facility as provided in this section.
(b) Not later than March 1, 2011, the General Assembly shall enact legislation necessary for implementation of this section. Such legislation shall include:
(I) An exception from the state's criminal laws for engaging or assisting in the medical use of marijuana and for the sale or transfer of marijuana to a patient, primary care-giver, or medical marijuana dispensing facility by any medical marijuana dispensing or production facility in lawful possession of a license to produce or to distribute medical marijuana and for any agent or employee of such facility;
(II) Procedures for the issuance, suspension, and revocation of a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensing or production facility;
(III) A schedule of licensing fees;
(IV) Minimum security requirements that are intended to prevent diversion for medical marijuana dispensing or production facilities;
(V) Minimum labeling requirements for medical marijuana distributed by medical marijuana dispensing or production facilities; and
(VI) Civil penalties for the failure to comply with legislation, ordinances, or regulations made pursuant to this section.
(c) Localities may enact ordinances or regulations not in conflict with this section or with legislation enacted pursuant to this section governing the time, place, and manner of medical marijuana dispensing or production facility operations and establishing penalties for violation of an ordinance or regulation governing the time, place, and manner of medical marijuana dispensing or production facilities that may operate in such locality, provided that no locality may prohibit the operation of such facilities, either expressly or through enactment of ordinances or regulations which make their operation unreasonably impracticable.
(d) Each application for a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensing or production facility shall be submitted to the Department of Regulatory Affairs. The Department of Regulatory Affairs shall:
(I) Begin processing applications on May 1, 2011;
(II) Immediately forward a copy of each application to the locality in which the applicant desires to operate the medical marijuana dispensing or production facility;
(III) Issue an annual license to the applicant within 90 days of receipt of an application unless it finds the applicant is not in compliance with legislation enacted pursuant to subsection (b) or it is notified by the relevant locality that the applicant is not in compliance with ordinances and regulations made pursuant to subsection (c) and in effect at the time of application; and
(IV) Upon denial of an application, notify the applicant of the specific reason for its denial.
(e) If the Department of Regulatory Affairs does not issue a license to an applicant within 90 days of receipt of the application filed in accordance with subsection (d) and does not notify the applicant of the specific reason for its denial, the applicant may submit its application directly to the locality and the locality shall issue an annual license to the applicant within 90 days of receipt of the application unless it finds the applicant is not in compliance with ordinances and regulations made pursuant to subsection (c) in effect at the time of application and shall notify the Department of Regulatory Affairs if an annual license has been issued to the applicant.
(f) If the General Assembly does not enact legislation required by subsection (b), the applicant may submit its application directly to the locality after May 1, 2011 and the locality shall issue an annual license to the applicant within 90 days of receipt of the application unless it finds the applicant is not in compliance with ordinances and regulations made pursuant to subsection (c) in effect at the time of application and shall notify the Department of Regulatory Affairs if an annual license has been issued to the applicant. An applicant licensed pursuant to this section shall be immune from arrest or prosecution for engaging or assisting in the medical use of marijuana and for the sale or transfer of marijuana to a patient, primary care-giver, or medical marijuana dispensing facility.
(g) As used in this section:
(I) "Locality" shall mean a home rule or statutory city, town, territorial charter city, or city or a county if the proposed location of the facility is not within the boundaries of a home rule or statutory city, town, territorial charter city, or city.
(II) "Medical marijuana dispensing facility" shall mean an entity established for the purpose of selling or otherwise transferring marijuana to any number of patients or primary care-givers.
(III) "Medical marijuana production facility" shall mean an entity established for the purpose of producing and preparing any amount of marijuana and for selling or otherwise transferring that marijuana to medical marijuana dispensing facilities.