Medical marijuana final rules published: Big Brother video regs improved, says attorney

At 6 a.m., the Department of Revenue published the final version of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division's rules. The document is 77 pages long, and attorney Warren Edson hasn't had time to study them at length. However, a number of elements jump out at him -- particularly the elimination of a previously discussed edict that MMJ centers video-record every patient transaction in ways that reminded many industry pros of George Orwell's 1984.

"The video requirements are dramatically minimized," says Edson. "Before, they talked about a twelve-by-twelve box, where the patient's ID and their red card would be placed and photographed. But now, there appears to be no tracking video-wise of sales or transactions at all.

"Don't get me wrong -- there are cameras at the front door, cameras all over the place. But the twelve-by-twelve box is clearly gone."

Edson and other industry professionals were tipped about this development at a meeting last night of the Medical Marijuana Business Association. Among the attendees was Dan Hartman, division director of the enforcement division, also known as MMED.

Hartman referenced a previous public-comments hearing at which patients and MMJ center representatives "complained about a violation of privacy," Edson recalls. "They said, 'We don't want this stuff on the Internet and randomly available to law enforcement. And there are no standards as to who can get this info, why and how.'"

Cut to last night, when Hartman told business association members, "We listened to you" -- and Edson agrees that in this case, they did.

Not that every section of the document -- it's 77 pages long, down from 99 in the last draft -- is to Edson's liking. For instance, "the inventory definition is still very broad, and it includes things like shake: i.e., what many people consider waste material that weighs more than you get bang for it. Now, one ounce of cola buds is the equivalent of one ounce of shake, even though the monetary and medicinal value of these two items is dramatically different."

He's also not thrilled that clones will be included in the overall plant count.

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Other items that caught Edson's eye: "lots of rules about timing and weighing and transportation, including a rule saying that a product's got to be transported to the medical marijuana center within 48 hours after being packaged and tagged;" "a very tight definition of the 70-30 rule," which requires MMCs to grow 70 percent of their own medicine, with up to 30 percent drawn from other sources; and this passage from a section entitled "Declaratory Orders Concerning the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code:"

Any person, municipality, county, or city and county, may petition the MMED for a statement of position concerning the applicability to the petitioner of any provision of the Code, or any regulation of the State Licensing Authority. The Division shall respond with a written statement of position within thirty (30) days of receiving such petition.

His interpretation? MMED has created a procedure for questions about or challenges to the code, which includes language compelling the state to explain its reasons for various decisions -- a good thing, he believes.

Likely to get a less enthusiastic reception from some advocates are sections about penalties, including the requirement "that licensees have to narc each other out within three business days," and what Edson calls "the smelly hippie rules." Here's a wacky excerpt:

The Licensee shall take all reasonable measures and precautions to ensure the following:

1. That any person who, by medical examination or supervisory observation, is shown to have, or appears to have, an illness, open lesion, including boils, sores, or infected wounds, or any other abnormal source of microbial contamination for whom there is a reasonable possibility of contact with preparation surfaces for medical marijuana or MIPs shall be excluded from any operations which may be expected to result in such contamination until the condition is corrected.

2. That all persons working in direct contact with preparation of medical marijuana or MIPs shall conform to hygienic practices while on duty, including:

a. Maintaining adequate personal cleanliness.

b. Washing hands thoroughly in an adequate hand-washing area(s) before starting work and at any other time when the hands may have become soiled or contaminated.

c. Hand-washing facilities shall be adequate and convenient and be furnished with running water at a suitable temperature. Handwashing facilities shall be located in the facility in MIP preparation areas and where good sanitary practices require employees to wash and/or sanitize their hands, and provide effective hand-cleaning and sanitizing preparations and sanitary towel service or suitable drying devices.

d. Refraining from having direct contact with preparation of medical marijuana or MIPs if the person has or may have an illness, open lesion, including boils, sores, or infected wounds, or any other abnormal source of microbial contamination, until such condition is corrected.

"I made fun of this at a meeting in January," Edson says. "And now there's more stuff. It even throws in that this applies to people making hash."

More interesting developments: a mention of a storage warehouse permit, which Edson sees as establishing both "a new license and a new place where marijuana can legally be," specific references to outdoor grows that also confirms their legality, he believes, and a reference codifying a caregiver's ability to purchase medicine at a center and then deliver it to a homebound patient.

Less laudable for Edson? This sentence: "No change of location will be allowed except to another place within the same city, town, county or city and county in which the license as originally issued was to be exercised." In other words, he says, "if I had a business in Loveland and the nice people there voted me out of town, I couldn't move to Denver, because it's in a different county" -- and even starting the process over would be impossible, because "we've got a moratorium, and the moratorium might extend for another year. So it doesn't give any kind of out to the people who've been screwed by the voter issue."

When asked for a general take, Edson concedes that the rules "are still not perfect. But it's clear that they listened and made some changes in response to what people asked. And to me, that's an incredibly positive event. Politics is difficult, but it appears to have worked as much as politics can work for us. People went out and complained, and it wasn't like the old days, where nothing would happen. This time, people complained, and changes were made for the better."

Page down to read the new rules:

Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division Rules

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: 2,000 patient aps to be nixed under health board MMJ doc compromise."

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