Medical marijuana debate at Denver city council: Expect a mob scene

The pot proposal pushed by Denver city councilman Charlie Brown is up for public comment on Monday -- and the Cannabis Therapy Institute, among the most efficient and effective marijuana advocacy organizations in the state, wants to make sure folks who agree with its views show up in droves.

CTI has sent out an action alert to its members and supporters urging them to express their displeasure over Brown's measure in a variety of ways, including phone calls to council members; they've even put together a sample script and talking points for dialers to hit. But the outfit is also encouraging attendance at the meeting, warning that "it looks like the City of Denver expects a contentious hearing, because they have put together a special list of rules in case any medical cannabis patients, caregivers or advocates engage in 'disruptive behavior' in their exercise of their First Amendment rights."

Disruption isn't on the agenda -- but a show of force is. Check out the rest of the CTI alert below:

Action Alert:

Denver City Council Public Hearing

Please copy and redistribute!

The Denver City Council will hold the Final Hearing and Public Comment on Council Bill 34: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Regulation. You can read the latest version here:

The most onerous and burdensome provisions of the ordinance still remain in the final draft, and many are blatantly unconstitutional This ordinance will restrict a patient's Constitutional right to have safe access to their medicine and to decide who may be their caregiver. The ordinance allows searches without warrant or even probable cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The ex post facto nature of the law (making previous legal activities illegal) undermines the Constitution from yet another angle.

The City of Denver aims to recriminalize patients and their caregivers, force small businesses out of town, and allow only for mega-dispensaries to be able to afford to operate. It does nothing to address the real needs of patients to have more access to less expensive medicine or to protect them from discrimination and prosecution. Please contact the Denver City Council and ask them to vote NO on this proposed ordinance and attend the public hearing if you can on Jan. 11.

1) Denver City Council Final Hearing and Public Comment

Council Bill 34: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries When: Mon., Jan. 11, 2010 Time: Council Meeting starts at 5:30 pm Where: Council Chambers, Room 450 City & County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, Denver, CO On the west side of the Civic Center Park. Email: Denver City Council

Special Rules for the Public Hearing

It looks like the City of Denver expects a contentious hearing, because they have put together a special list of rules in case any medical cannabis patients, caregivers or advocates engage in "disruptive behavior" in their exercise of their First Amendment rights.

Some of the special rules include: - limiting total testimony to 2 hours - will not let anyone testify if they don't fill out a Speaker Card and turn it in to staff by 5:30pm - will limit testimony to 2-3 minutes - will allow no standing room; so everyone get there

Here is a link to the all the rules: Special instructions for the Public Comment portion of the meeting

2) Contact the Denver City Council Denver City Council Main Office City & County Bldg. 1437 Bannock St., Rm. 451 Denver, CO 80202

Phone: 720-865-9534 Fax: 720-865-9540 Email: Web:

Main Point The main point we want to get across is for the Denver City Council to vote NO on the proposed Medical Marijuana Ordinance and replace it with a Study Group to study the issue and make recommendations.

Sample Phone Script First, introduce yourself. If you are a patient, tell the City Council how cannabis has helped you. Then say something like:

"Could you please tell the City Council to vote NO on the Medical Marijuana Ordinance. The ordinance should be rejected in its entirety and replaced by a Study Group, composed of patients, caregivers, law enforcement, and physicians. The Study Group should research reasonable regulations for the City of Denver that will protect patients and allow them safe access to affordable medicine."

Talking points You can use any of these talking points in your phone calls, emails, postcards or faxes:

1) The restrictions contained in the Denver ordinance will: · Restrict a patient's Constitutional right to have safe access to their medicine. · Drive prices up · Eliminate small businesses: Only well-funded dispensaries will be able to afford to operate. · Drive smaller businesses back underground into the black market. · Reduce variety and consistency of medicines by reducing competition

2) No restrictions on density. The Denver ordinance enacts the restrictive zoning requirements that dispensaries should not be within 1000 feet of each other. Medical cannabis businesses are not all the same, and different businesses serve different needs. To put arbitrary limits on density will force patients to go farther and pay more for their medicine.

3) No restrictions on caregiver traits. The Denver ordinance would deny a dispensary license to any person who had been convicted of a felony in the last five years. Restrictions on caregiver personal traits are un-Constitutional. There should be no background checks or tests of moral character to be a caregiver. Ninety percent of all Coloradans may be eligible to be part of the Medical Marijuana Registry at some point in their lives. If we discriminate against caregivers based on background, many of the most qualified caregivers will be eliminated, and many eligible patients will be denied the quality of care they are entitled to under the Constitution.

4) No warrantless raids on dispensaries. The Denver ordinance allows law enforcement to perform compliance checks on dispensaries to determine "that the source and quantity of any marijuana found upon the licensed premises is in full compliance with any applicable state law or regulation." This amounts to unannounced raids on dispensaries at any time, without a warrant or even probable cause to suspect wrongdoing.

5) License fees too expensive. The Denver ordinance requires a $2000 application fee and $3000 annual registration fee. These fees are outrageous and the costs will be transferred to the patients.

6) Additional licensing unnecessary. Caregiver businesses already register with the Department of Revenue for a sales tax license. Any additional licensing requirements would force small caregivers out of business, reduce competition, and drive prices for medicine up even more, increasing the burden on patients.

7) No restrictions on proximity to schools, child care centers, etc. The Denver ordinance requires dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet away from a school or child care center. There has been no documented evidence of a child purchasing medical marijuana from any dispensary in Colorado. Children are smart enough to know that they can't go in a liquor store or a sex shop, so they should be able to be taught not to go into medical cannabis businesses.

Caregivers Unite to Help Patients If you are a caregiver, now is the time that you must "do more" for your patients by teaching them to become grassroots lobbyists.

1) Design a Cannabis Action Center in your business dedicated to having patients contact elected officials. The first target will be the Denver City Council. Later, we will start targeting the state legislature.

2) Your Cannabis Action Center at minimum needs to contain a dedicated phone and writing materials.

3) Encourage each of your patients to take a few minutes to call an elected official before they leave your shop. Make sure your dedicated phone is never idle.

4) Most people have never called an elected representative in their life and get nervous. Empower your patients to become grassroots lobbyists and make their first call using the sample script and the talking points included in this Action Alert.

5) Most people get over their nervousness after the first call. You can then encourage these newly-created activist patients to train other people how to make phone calls, further empowering your patient-base.

6) You can also have patients send letters, postcards, faxes and emails.

7) Repost this Action Alert on social networking sites or email to your contact lists. Encourage others to pass it on as well. The only thing that has ever protected the Constitution from overzealous government restrictions has been the vocal opposition of the citizens.

8) Print this free "Another Business for Patient Rights" poster and display it proudly in a prominent location to show your support for patient rights:

Remember to cc us on any correspondence with legislators:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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