House Bill 1284, Representative Tom Massey's legislative attempt to regulate Colorado's medical marijuana industry, was presented to the House judiciary committee last week, with plenty of law enforcement types testifying against it -- a process that advocate Rob Corry found unseemly.
Now, another curve ball. Massey and state senator Chris Romer, a co-sponsor of the bill, have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking that the Drug Enforcement Administration, which made some high-profile raids on medical marijuana enterprises -- most notably the home grow of Highlands Ranch's Chris Bartkowicz -- give it a rest while the lawmakers try to find what's described as "that rational middle ground."
The letter, which is also copied to President Barack Obama and a slew of Colorado officials, makes it clear that Massey, Romer and fellow signers Nancy Spence and Beth McCann don't want all marijuana-related activities by the DEA stopped. Still, they feel it's wrong to treat legitimate medical marijuana entrepreneurs in the same way.
Here's the text from the document, which is dated March 5:
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Dear Attorney General Holder,
As you know, the Colorado General Assembly is currently considering several bills designed to establish a legal framework to effectively regulate medical marijuana. Federal DEA raids of medical marijuana businesses, however, are complicating our legislative efforts.
While we realize it is unrealistic -- and frankly unwise -- to ask the Justice Department to suspend investigation or prosecution of those engaged in the trafficking and distribution of "recreational" marijuana, we hope you will consider imposing a moratorium on medical marijuana sector raids. These raids discourage dispensary operators, caregivers, growers and patients from providing testimony or recommendations to state lawmakers, hampering our ability to develop a workable and realistic regulatory arrangement for medical marijuana.
Again, we strongly support the efforts of state and federal law enforcement as they investigate, arrest, and prosecute the violent gangs and other criminal enterprises engaged in the illegitimate importation, production, and distribution of black market drugs. However, we believe it is a mistake to put the activities of the legitimate medical marijuana community in the same category as these criminal conglomerates.
We appreciate the Administration's recognition of the very complex waters we are attempting to navigate between the Colorado Constitution and federal drug policy, and ask for your patience as we attempt to find that rational middle ground.
Thank you in advance for your assistance, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Chris Romer State Senator
Tom Massey State Representative
Nance Spence State Senator
Beth McCann State Representative
Cc: President Barack Obama Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. Attorney General John Suthers US Attorney David M. Gaouette Resident Agent in Charge Tom Gorman, DEA Special Agent Jeffrey Sweetin, DEA Senate President Brandon Shaffer Senator Joshua Penry Senator John Morse Speaker Terrance Carroll Representative Paul Weissmann Representative Mike May