Medical marijuana: Caregivers' Cup to end after June event due to state registry, organizer says

The Caregivers' Cup has been a local medical marijuana scene staple for eight years via semi-annual gatherings featuring product contests and more. But organizer Timothy Tipton says the next get-together, slated for June 26 at the Oriental Theater, will be the last due to the anticipated passage of HB 1043, a so-called MMJ cleanup bill that changes the rules for caregivers in a way Tipton thinks puts them in danger of potential prosecution.

Tipton is a vocal opponent of Colorado's regulatory approach to medical marijuana. Indeed, he includes Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert, the men behind the 2012 marijuana legalization ballot initiatives that were scrutinized by state election officials yesterday, among the "four horsemen of the Colorado medical marijuana apocalypse" along with Dan Hartman, head of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, and Rob Kampia, head of the national Marijuana Policy Project, whose Steve Fox helped write the aforementioned legalization measures.

No wonder he dislikes HB 1043's caregiver tweaks. According to attorney Rob Corry, who's advised Governor John Hickenlooper to veto the bill, caregivers would be required to "register with the Department of Revenue and disclose their location in the Department of Revenue database, as opposed to the confidential database of the Department of Health" -- something he considers to be a "violation of a promise made to all of us who've been involved in this entire process."

Tipton's take? "It's making caregivers out to be outlaws. It takes caregiving, which was initiated over a decade ago as a viable, reasonable way for patients to get access to medicine, and puts it in an environment of over-regulation and unacceptable risk."

As a result, Tipton believes the majority of caregivers will choose not to register with the state and go back underground. "My sources are referring to 90 percent non-participation in caregiving registry activities and an overall boycott of the medical marijuana registry." And they're not the only ones he expects to head back into the shadows: "My sources tell me large numbers of commercial grow workers throughout the state have as yet not registered and been fingerprinted. They're fearful of possible federal interaction, which could go very negatively for people in commercial grows."

If that comes to pass, such folks would undoubtedly see participating in a public event like the Caregivers' Cup as too risky. And while Tipton expects a "caregivers test case" will challenge the registration requirements as unconstitutional, he sees no way to keep the Cup going in the interim.

As such, he's approaching the upcoming event, which is open only to caregivers and patients, as the last, and he hopes to go out with a bang, or at least a buzz. He touts a "bud-pirates costume contest, a rolling competition, and competitions for different strains, infused products -- lots of different things." He calls interest in taking part "off the hook."

If the Caregivers' Cup does indeed go away, Tipton has other entrepreneurial ideas, including the Rocky Mountain Bud Pirates Tour, which he describes as "a historical tour that would involve wellness centers, bakeries and other facilities -- a three-hour tour of Denver that would educate patients on the therapy and expose them to new options of legal cannabis." He envisions similar tours in Boulder and Colorado Springs and insists that "we have the buses in place."

In the meantime, he's doing his best to promote the last Cup even as "government over-regulation is putting us in a position that's unacceptable for the confidentiality and privacy people who do this work need."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana legalization: Brian Vicente mending fences with locals over 2012 initiatives filing."

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