Medical marijuana: Advocates differ about MMJ cleanup bill HB 1043 hearing (PHOTOS)

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Some very different takes on yesterday's judiciary committee hearing on HB 1043, a medical marijuana bill co-sponsored by Representative Tom Massey and Senator Pat Steadman. Jill Lamoureux, who also weighed in on a contentious health department advisory meeting, doesn't think the bill is highly problematic. As for the Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho, she found the session's tone objectionable. Photos below. Speaking yesterday afternoon, Kriho was upset that none of the nineteen amendments to the bill had been published. "When I asked if there was a copy of anything, they literally laughed at me," she said.

Among the amendments that concerned her, she highlighted an extension of the current MMJ dispensary moratorium to July 1, 2012; the elimination of confidentiality for grow locations; and a requirement for primary caregivers to register with the Department of Revenue and obtain a photo-ID card.

Kriho also considered the behavior of judiciary committee members to be disrespectful to members of the MMJ community -- so much so that she wrote a letter of complaint reproduced below in its entirety.

For her part, Lamoureux prefers to focus on the legislation itself, which has been rewritten to some degree. For instance, a passage that would have made it easier for individuals with past felony convictions to work in the MMJ industry was excised, as was a fix to the so-called 35 day rule, which asks that patients not buy medical marijuana until 35 days after an application is turned in to give the health department time to approve or reject the submission.

More positively from her perspective, the bill equates patient records with other medical records, allows private citizens to create MMJ-related investment vehicles, and allows centers to provide medical marijuana to indigent patients -- although she feels the definition of indigence is currently too narrow.

Her overall take? "I would say we were disappointed that the 35-day rule fix was taken out, but we were happy with the confidentiality measures added to patient records. And without having read the entire, re-engrossed bill, we didn't see anything hugely detrimental to patients and centers.

Moreover, the latest iteration won't necessarily be the final version.

"The bill will go to Appropriations, then it will go to the House floor, and then it will go to the Senate side," she points out. "So there will be many opportunities to try to make changes, mainly adding more patient privacy provisions."

Page down to see more photos from yesterday's session courtesy of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, as well as Kriho's letter to the judiciary committee:

Cannabis Therapy Institute letter:

Dear House Judiciary Committee members:

During the hearing on HB 11-1043 on Wed., 2/10, many patients and advocates complained about the rude behavior of your committee. Often, several members on the committee appeared to be laughing at the patients who testified. There was also a lot of texting and giggling coming from certain members. This was very rude and disrespectful.

The chair several times would not let a patient finish their sentence because he deemed the patient's testimony "off-topic" even before he heard what the patient was going to say. In one particular instance, the chair's interruptions and criticisms of a patient's testimony took up more time than the actual patient testimony itself would have taken. Why not just let patient speak? Why are you so afraid of somebody wavering "off-topic"? What could someone possibly say in two minutes that would be so harmful to the committee that they have to shut them down even before they get started?

The fact that the chair was critical of patients' not being "on topic" was even more rude considering the fact that no one on your committee either provided copies of the original bill or copies of the amendments to anyone. When I asked one of your committee for the language of the amendments, he literally laughed at me and said there was no way I was going to be able to see it. Yet, everyone against the bill was held to the standard of staying "on topic", even though the chair didn't think it was necessary to provide copies of the bill and amendments so we could stay "on topic".

Even more surprising, when one patient questioned a representative in the hallway, that representative tore in half the amendments to the bill and threw them in the trash. Another patient recovered them from the trash, and that was the only copy of the bill's amendments that patients and advocates were able to see.

Furthermore, those that spoke against the bill were only allotted two minutes to speak, but those who spoke for the bill were allowed unlimited time to testify. We didn't see the two minute rule enforced once on the supporters of the bill. Why are patients treated like second-class citizens?

Also, you did not allow our sickest patients to testify first. Many with cancer and other serious illnesses could not stay for long due to their medical condition. It would have been polite, considering this law directly affects people with "debilitating medical conditions", to ask those people to come up and testify first. Of course, judging by the Committee's overall behavior and rudeness to patients, you did not want to hear their testimony, so I'm sure that you are happy that some of the sickest patients who showed up had to leave without testifying.

The stated intention of HB 10-1284 was to put 80% of caregivers out of business. That has been successful, and now you have 100% of these caregivers' former patients searching for a safe and confidential way to access their medicine. Because of what you did to patients in 2010, many more of them are suffering without their medicine. Some will literally die without their cannabis medicine. Do you care? Your laws are driving fear into patients and are causing expenses for patients to go up. HB 1043 only exacerbates the problems patients currently face and does absolutely nothing to help patients.

Why did you put a medical program into the hands of the state's tax collectors? How did you think this would help patients?

Your antagonism and lack of compassion towards people with cancer and other serious medical conditions is appalling. I am ashamed of the committee as a whole. I hope that in the future you will show less rudeness and more respect and compassion to the people upon whom your laws will have the greatest impact and upon whom you are issuing death sentences. If you want to pass laws that harm patients, the least you could do is pretend to be respectful of them when they show up at a public hearing to testify. Patients are going through enough stress and they don't need your rudeness to exacerbate their medical conditions. If compassion is beyond you, please at least show respect.


Laura Kriho, Director

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana HB 1250 bill would outlaw MMJ edibles: Read it here."

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