4

Medical marijuana: $9M to plug budget hole proof MMJ's getting normalized, says advocate

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Yesterday, Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho criticized Governor Bill Ritter's proposal to use $9 million in medical marijuana fees to help make up for a budget shortfall. But Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation's Matt Brown, sees the move as evidence medical pot is becoming increasingly entrenched in the system. "It spoke to me about how much we've normalized the idea of medical marijuana here," he says.

Granted, Brown isn't entirely comfortable with putting the MMJ money into the general fund, since HB 1284, the main medical-marijuana-regulatory measure, "is very clear in establishing that these are locked cash funds that are not to be used indiscriminately."

Nonetheless, "other cash funds were effected, too, and my hunch is that most of those are also locked cash funds" -- and he's right. The legislature will have to approve unlocking them.

"This definitely looks like an emergency action outside of regular procedures, and maybe lawyers will have a view about it," he goes on. "But I think it's telling that medical marijuana is one of the few cash funds that are not only covering expenses but running a surplus. And the reality of medical marijuana here in Colorado meant that, in this time of crisis, it was on the list along with other well-established funds that were running a surplus, too."

In Brown's view, the acceptance of medical marijuana as a permanent part of the Colorado political and economic landscape bodes well for the potential of tweaks the industry will likely begin pushing once the legislature returns in January 2011. He doesn't mention any specifics, but he believes advocates will be able to draw upon relationships established during lobbying efforts that resulted in the signing of HB 1284 and SB 109, a measure that attempts to clarify the relationship between doctors and patients.

"Medical marijuana has proven to be a responsible industry," he says, "and we will continue building on everything that comes with that status."

Including, presumably, the appeal of medical marijuana fees to this cash-starved state.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.