Today's 2 p.m. senate committee hearing about House Bill 1284, a medical marijuana regulatory bill, is shaping up to be a showdown between legislators such as Senator Chris Romer, who's talked about floating a slew of new, more restrictive amendments, and MMJ advocates who fear the measure is getting worse, not better.
Chief among the latter is Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Reform's Matt Brown, who's planning to testify today. And what will he say? He provides some clues in an e-mail to folks on CMMR's list. It reads in part, "Now is not the time to destroy hard-fought consensus, nor is it the time to stack the deck in favor of a few at the expense of us all. CMMR stands firmly opposed to Sen. Romer's amendments and will stand opposed to any new restrictions that stack the deck against responsible caregivers of all shapes and sizes."
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As has been widely reported, HB1284 is again up for public comment during today's Senate Local Government & Energy committee meeting. This hearing will be held at 2pm in the former Supreme Court chamber in the state capital (same room as House Judiciary hearing).
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We have received word that Senator Romer intends to offer a number of amendments. Among these are proposed new requirements to:
1. Create arbitrary non-refundable application fees of $35,000 for dispensary licenses and $10,000 for other licenses, required by July 1 of this year. 2. Be compliant with 70/30 "vertical integration" rule by July 1 of this year. 3. Be a resident of Colorado for the past 2 years. 4. Cities and Counties must certify they have shut all dispensaries who haven't paid the $35,000 fee by Sept 1 or no dispensary applications in their jurisdiction will get processed.
Read the whole list of new ideas from Sen. Romer here:
Obviously, the last 3 weeks of the 2010 General Assembly is not the time to attempt to wholesale amend a bill that currently has broad support from cities, counties, the governor, as well as Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. Furthermore, the specific changes outlined by Sen. Romer unquestionably stack the deck in favor of a few at the expense of the many.
Colorado has not reached the point where we stand today by opting for the Oakland or New Mexico system of restricting a caregiver license from all but a few well-funded groups. We have not grown to care for over 75,000 new licensed patients in the last year alone by artificially dictating what services must be provided, but rather by providing an entrerpreneurial environment for individuals to work together to create and define their own vision of patient caregiving. And at every step of the way, when the media highlighted unflattering realities in our industry, small business owners called staff meetings to discuss how their dispensary could "raise the bar".
Our industry has met every challenge put before us and we are dedicated to continue that responsible evolution. However, we must not forget that the legal environment for Colorado's caregivers has not changed in any way since we began this debate in October. Now is the time to lock in the progress that has been made so that our responsible medical marijuana providers can focus on getting compliant with the "new rules", and so that we don't lose all the incredible gains that have been made so far.
Today I will testify to the Senate committee that enough is enough. Now is not the time to destroy hard-fought consensus, nor is it the time to stack the deck in favor of a few at the expense of us all. CMMR stands firmly opposed to Sen. Romer's amendments and will stand opposed to any new restrictions that stack the deck against responsible caregivers of all shapes and sizes.
I urge all CMMR supporters to take a moment and contact the members of the Senate Local Government & Energy Committee to express your opinions on the changes being proposed. The full list of committee members can be found at: http://bit.ly/ccmggm and the members and their e-mail addresses are listed below.
Chair - Sen. Gail Schwartz firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice-Chair - Sen. Joyce Foster email@example.com
Sen. Bill Cadman firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Mary Hodge email@example.com
Sen. Ken Kester firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Kevin Lundberg email@example.com
Sen. Linda Newell firstname.lastname@example.org