Boulder DA Stan Garnett: Additional medical marijuana legislation may be unconstitutional

Boulder district attorney Stan Garnett is the rare public official who's willing to speak plainly about marijuana, medical or otherwise.

Note that way back in September, he wrote that "legalizing marijuana entirely would be the simplest way to resolve the tension between the Constitution and the Criminal statutes," and he predicted that most states will ultimately do so.

In the meantime, however, he has praise for Senator Chris Romer's bill about clarifying the doctor-patient relationship when it comes to medical marijuana. But while he agrees with Romer that the current bill represents a positive development, Garnett isn't sure the state can pass additional measures without violating the constitution.

"I think the first bill of Romer's is a big step in the right direction to tighten up control and management of the doctor-patient relationship in the medical marijuana situation," Garnett says. "I'm glad it seems to be moving along with a lot of support both in the legislature and, I think, in the governor's office."

However, he adds, "I don't know that much other legislation makes sense or can be constitutional."

Garnett doesn't specifically mention the so-called law-enforcement bill being assembled by Representative Tom Massey, which may attempt to limit the number of patients per caregiver to five. But attorney Rob Corry has already implied that legal challenges may be in the offing if Romer's current measure passes -- and no one expects advocates like him to sit passively if legislators attempt to dismantle the present dispensary system.

Given this situation, Garnett argues that community solutions rather than statewide remedies may be the best way to go.

"My view is that this bill and then zoning and local control should be enough to improve the situation from what we have now," he says.

Perhaps -- but expect Massey and company to push for broader legislation anyhow, triggering what's sure to be one of the more entertaining legislative fights in recent memory.

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