Marijuana

Medical marijuana lawsuit: Jessica Corry on why dispensary ban shouldn't be on El Paso ballot

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WW: What kind of damage would be done to business owners in El Paso County if the measure goes on the ballot and wins? How about the damage to El Paso County because of falling tax receipts?

JC: The fiscal implications could be immense. Colorado's caregivers and patients have back-filled state and local tax coffers and local economies to the tune of tens of millions of dollars already in 2010. This is before you consider any damages that taxpayers would be forced to foot the bill for the government's improper actions here. Our clients want to stay in business and the last thing they want is to have to head to court to recoup the significant losses they could incur.

WW: Is simply keeping the measure off the ballot your goal? Or would you like to put the ability of communities or municipalities to ban dispensaries, retail operations, grow operations, etc., on trial?

JC: For now, our focus is on the ballot issue. Like the other cases we have around the state, any challenge to HB 1284 likely won't provide a single "test case"... When we discuss HB 1284, we're really talking about legislative mandates and administrative rules that include hundreds of pages of rules and requirements. This case could be a crucial part of our strategy to protect medical marijuana rights, but it can't be the only part. For the last several months, we've worked closely with various agencies and governments across the state to avoid litigation. We've had a lot of success coming to reasonable interpretations of very vague mandates. Heading to court should be seen only as a last resort. Here, given the county's actions, however, we simply had no other choice.

WW: If the latter, do you think a decision in your favor could set a precedent, and force the portion of HB 1284 about local control to be removed from the legislation?

JC: We're hopeful that this could set a precedent, but at minimum, we're hopeful that this will further legitimize a tax-paying, law-abiding industry that serves 150,000 registered patients across our state.

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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.
Contact: Michael Roberts