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Medical marijuana registry-fund bill, industrial-hemp proposal take next steps

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Even as Senator Steve King's proposed THC DUI bill is being debated this afternoonpassed through to the state House, two other state legislators are making one last push for their separate marijuana-related proposals with a little more than a week left before Colorado's General Assembly adjourns.

The subjects: funding the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division and promoting the possibility of future industrial-hemp cultivation.

Representative Beth McCann of Denver recently told us that concern over staffing and budget issues at MMED prompted her to introduce HB 1358, which would shift money from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's medical marijuana registry fund to the struggling department.

According to her proposal, $9.7 million would be transferred from a $10 million CDPHE surplus. Of that total, $5.7 million would immediately assist the MMED, with $2 million set aside as an emergency fund. The remaining $2 million would be transferred to the CDPHE's Tony Grampsas Youth Services program to help with crime and violence prevention.

Critics have argued that patient money was never intended to help enforce dispensary regulations, and that the surplus money should go to programs more directly related to patients. HB 1358 is set to go before the Appropriations committee at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Legislative Services Building, 200 East 14th Avenue.

Up tomorrow is a bill sponsored by Representative Wes McKinley that would create a remediation program using industrial hemp to suck pollutants out of soil at the former Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons plant at a site similar to the former Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons plantover a ten-year period.

McKinley, a rancher himself, concedes that HB 1099 wouldn't create an industrial-hemp industry in Colorado just yet. But if passed, he believes it would represent a big step forward in that direction. "Being from a farming area, we are looking for crops that can make a profit," McKinley told us back in February. "We think hemp doesn't have to be subsidized like they do with corn and wheat."

HB 1099 is set to be heard before the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy committee in the Senate Committee room upon adjournment on Wednesday.

Note*: House Bill 1258 was incorrectly noted as going before the Appropriations Committee on the wrong day. The post has been corrected with the correct time and date.

More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving: Schedule I and II drugs out, bill again focused entirely on pot" and "Video: Flaming hash explosion follows High Times concentrates panel."

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