As noted in a just-published blog, House Bill 1284, which aims to regulate the medical marijuana industry, will be the focus of a senate committee hearing at 2 p.m. tomorrow. During the get-together, the public will have a chance to comment on numerous alternations in the measure that some MMJ advocates see as regressive.
In the meantime, Senator Chris Romer is making noises about more changes -- specifically to ban 21-and-under patients from going to medical marijuana dispensaries, and to set non-refundable licensing fees at the centers somewhere between $10,000 and $35,000 -- not quite the $50,000 figure that set off advocates and satirists last week, but much higher than many mom-and-pop dispensaries could manage.
Romer hasn't returned several recent interview requests from Westword. However, he copied yours truly on a note sent to Denver Post reporter John Ingold that touches on HB 1284, which he co-sponosred, and Senate Bill 109, a measure about the relationship between doctors and medical marijuana patients on which Romer took the lead. Regarding the latter, his dream of requiring two doctors recommendations for anyone age 23 and under didn't make the final cut, as he notes in the opening sentence of his e-mail to Ingold. But he has some other ideas:
SB109 passed out of conference committee without the age limit. I voted no on the report as a result. It will pass on both Houses.
Below are my amendments for Tuesday. I am also going to prohibit under 21 from going in MMJ centers.
Application Fees will be between $10,000 and $35,000 non refundable depending on size of MMJ centers. Other licenses $10,000 each.
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In addition, Romer included a note sent to Michael Dohr, a state employee whose tasks include drafting bills, containing a whopping nine more alterations, including threats against cities and counties for not closing unlicensed centers quickly enough and more.
I want to hear it in Local Government on Tuesday. Here are some changes. Let's talk before you draft.
1) I want all applications for MMJ centers due by July 1st with payment of non refundable application fee.
2) Must certify that they are growing 70% of the MMJ for their clinic by July 1st.
3) requires that MMJ centers with 300 patients or more must have licensed medical or message [massage?] professionals on site for at least 30 hours per week.
4) must be a Colorado resident for two years to own a MMJ center, be a partner or have a financial interest not including real estate lease.
5) Cities and Counties must certify that they have shut all MMJ centers that have not file State application fees by Sept 1st or no applications from that jurisdiction will be processed.
6) In cities greater than 35,000 and counties greater than 100,000 MMJ centers must be 1000 from schools no exceptions.
7) CDPHE can grant a waiver for onsite consumption for MMJ center if required to serve at least 10% of their patients but they must provide list of patients who are allowed to consume on site.
8) allows for sale of excess MMJ to one selected non profit which may be resold at cost plus 10% to MMJ centers to serve low income patients excluded from the 30% external limit.
9) provides for a non profit foundation organized solely for public university to apply for a research license and may sell excess MMJ to MMJ centers or edible licensee and may patent research or MMJ strains. This MMJ would not count against the MMJ centers 30% external limit.
How to interpret all this promised activity? Here's the view of Matt Brown, who fronts Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation, shared via e-mail:
It is important to remember that all the progress contained in HB1284, as it was passed by the House, is still just a proposal. When HB1284 moves into Senate debate this week, it once again is open to debate and possible amendment. If Senator Chris Romer uses this opportunity to attempt to wholesale amend a bill that already has widespread buy-in, then we risk ending this legislative session without any regulations at all. As it passed the House, HB1284 had broad support from the Colorado Municipal League (representing city governments), Colorado Counties (CCI), the Governor's office, and both Republicans and Democrats in the House.
At this point, it's time for the Senate to clean up a few remaining technical issues and lock in the regulations that have already been agreed upon. All the remaining proposals still on the table, as well as any new issues Sen Romer and others may plan to introduce, need to be tabled until next session.
Colorado stands on the verge of creating the most comprehensive, pragmatic, and forward-thinking medical marijuana business regulations of any state in the country, but we lose all that progress if HB1284 unravels in the final three weeks of the General Assembly session. CMMR encourages all Senators to reject these proposals to ensure all the other progress contained in HB1284 can be realized.