Today, House Bill 1284, Representative Tom Massey's long-awaited measure intended to regulate the medical marijuana industry in Colorado, will finally get its closeup at the Capitol. And the folks at the Cannabis Therapy Institute are ready to weigh in with their objections.
CTI is urging supporters to attend a rally on the Capitol steps beginning at noon, with featured speakers including advocates such as attorney Rob Corry, would-be gubernatorial candidate Miguel Lopez, and Robert Chase, founder of the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers, who earlier this week demanded the recall of Denver City Council members due to the medical marijuana ordinance they passed.
The institute is also encouraging the medical marijuana community to participate in public comments in regard to the Massey bill, even though CTI's Laura Kriho concedes that such folks "should be losing morale" because legislators haven't shown much interest in listening to them.
"We've been encouraging people to write letters and show up at the hearing, because there's only two times the legislature is going to take public comment -- and the two times are in the committee hearings on these bills," Kriho says. "So it's important that they come. And hopefully they'll take the testimony before eight o'clock at night."
Kriho's referencing long delays for public commentary on Senator Chris Romer's bill to modify the relationship between doctors and medical marijuana patients, which is nearing the governor's desk.
"It seems to me that they want to obstruct the patients' voices by waiting them out," Kriho maintains. "They say they don't do it on purpose, but it seems to happen awfully frequently. It's like a battle of attrition to see what patient can wait long enough to testify without having to go home and take their medicine."
By Kriho's own admission, "we're not doing very good as far as getting legislators to our side," as witnessed by the near-unanimous support in the senate for Romer's doctor-patient bill. (Only Republican Shawn Mitchell voted against it.) As a result, people "should be losing morale. Look at Denver, where we've got 50 percent of dispensaries out of business from last week. That's pretty significant. And clearly, the legislature isn't in it for the patients. The ones I've talked to haven't cared at all about what we're saying; they haven't talked to any patients, and they haven't adopted any of their concerns.
"I know this, because I get copies of the letters the patients send to the legislature, and I see the responses from time to time. There just seems to be a big lack of compassion at the Capitol. They think everybody just wants to get stoned, and they don't realize there are people who depend on this medicine to live. So it's got to be frustrating for the patients to keep coming to these hearings and either not getting a chance to testify or not being listened to if they do."
She's just as frustrated by the relatively small number of Denver dispensaries that applied for official licenses by the March 1 deadline; like Chase, she believes the City Council "wanted to put a lot of dispensaries out of business, and they succeeded."
Councilman Chris Nevitt disputes this interpretation, and suggests that advocates like Kriho are hurting their own cause by demanding more than politicians are willing to give. Kriho counters that she's simply speaking out of concern for medical marijuana users.
"Is this a good situation for patients?" she asks. "Not at all. Their choices are going to be diminished, and the prices are going to go up. They say they want to solve the medical marijuana problem, but we're still waiting for a definition of what that problem is."
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Nonetheless, Kriho doesn't want those who believe as she does to lose heart.
"People have to participate in the political process," she says. "We have to step up and do it. The caregivers have to step up and do it for their patients -- because their patients are just trying to heal themselves."
Page down to read CTI's objections to the Massey bill, as well as details about the noon rally today:
Cannabis Rally at the General Assembly
WHAT: Protest Against HB1284
WHEN: 12PM, Thursday, March 4, 2010
WHERE: West Steps of the Capitol , 200 East Colfax Avenue
WHY: HB1284 would create an unnecessary state bureaucracy, raise patients' costs, and restrict their access to medicine "My clients' lives literally depend on their access to medicine, and we will fight any government proposal that would restrict supply and raise costs, such as this proposal," says attorney Robert J. Corry
Sponsored by: Mile High NORML, the Denver 420 Rally, the Cannabis Therapy Institute, the Colorado420 Coalition, Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative, and the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers (CCPC)
11:30AM Mingle with other activists
12:00PM Rob Corry, Cannabis Crusader and Defense Attorney
12:20PM Dr. Robert Melamede, Assoc. Professor at UCCS, CEO of Cannabis Science Inc.
12:40PM Miguel Lopez, Executive Director of Denver's annual 4/20 Rally
1:00PM Robert Chase, Founder of CCPC
1:30PM Join us as at the House Judiciary Committee Hearing on HB1284 in the Old Supreme Court Chambers on the second floor of the Capitol to show our opposition to the bill. House Bill 1284
House Bill 1284 is the second of the law enforcement bills, which seeks to shut down access to medical cannabis and only allow well-funded dispensaries to compete in the new regime. HB1284 is a 45-page monstrosity that would further restrict patients and caregivers. Click here to read it.
HB1284 would set up a state medical marijuana licensing board run by the Department of Revenue, not the Department of Health. It would require all dispensaries to be run as non-profits, eliminating the ability to collect taxes from them. Ninety-percent of all the cannabis used by the dispensary would have to be grown onsite. HB1284 would require dispensary owners to pass background checks and submit fingerprints to the FBI. You could not own a dispensary if you had ever had a felony drug conviction, but any other felony is OK. HB1284 would require caregivers to giver up their 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. HB1284 would even prohibit the cannabis leaf symbol from being used in advertising.
Attorney Rob Corry has provided a detailed analysis of the many ways this bill will harm patients: http://www.cannabistherapyinstitute.com/bills/hb1284.corry.comments.pdf
Lawmakers clearly don't understand the special cannabis medicines and strains that the smaller caregiving businesses are providing to patients and want to restrict the industry to the point where there are only a few mega-Walmart dispensaries in Colorado.
Meanwhile, patients are still getting arrested and prosecuted and they are still losing their jobs, their homes, and their children due to their choice of medicine. The real problems of patients are ignored while legislators try to appease law enforcement and put the medical cannabis genie back in the bottle. Patients are using the slogan "Nothing about us without us" and encouraging lawmakers to actually work with patients and form a commission to study the real problems, instead of railroading through poorly-written and blatantly un-Constitutional laws without any patient input.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Public Hearing on HB1284
House Judiciary Committee
Room: Old Supreme Court Chambers
PUBLIC COMMENT WILL BE TAKEN!!!
TAKE ACTION NOW!
*URGENT - URGENT - URGENT - URGENT - URGENT*
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*NO ON HB1284
(All of these House members voted in favor of SB109. Now they have a chance to redeem themselves and stand up for patients and vote NO on HB1284.)
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