Plant Medicine Expo: Medical marijuana event featuring Richard Belzer historic, advocate says

This weekend's Plant Medicine Expo, featuring a debate moderated by Law & Order Special Victims Unit star Richard Belzer, was a "historic event not only for the state of Colorado, but for the nation and the world," says Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho, a member of the expo's advisory board.

Get more details, and see a full-sized shot of Belzer holding court below:

The two-day conference was put together by Seth Ginsberg of TGI Healthworks, an organization that's put on events for people with a variety of chronic illnesses for over a decade. In Kriho's view, this background gave Plant Medicine Expo a different feel from previous medical marijuana events.

"The scientific community was heavily involved," notes Kriho. "It was really exciting to see people come together to talk about this medicine -- and the more we get together to talk about it, the more we realize how much there is to learn, and how many benefits the plant has. I'd never seen anything like it in Colorado before."

Separate programs targeted physicians and patients. Organizations like CTI had booths at the Downtown Denver Sheraton, where the expo took place, with featured presentations including one on cannabis-therapy fundamentals by Deanna Gabriel. A CTI instructor, Gabriel will be offering an expanded version of this class on October 20. Click here for more information.

In addition, "they had some pretty famous physicians talk," Kriho points out. "It was a good opportunity for the medical community to hear things they don't normally hear in a very professional setting. And hopefully, it'll help more physicians and other health-care professionals to participate in this."

Kriho says the event as a whole was well-attended, with everyone coming together for Belzer's debate -- although "it was really more of a discussion," she feels, with the actor serving primarily as a facilitator. Among the participants were once-homeless Colorado Springs city council member Tom Gallagher and Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, who's running against John Suthers, a well-known hater of the state's MMJ laws, for the position of Colorado's Attorney General.

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Several medical marijuana attorneys recently threw a fundraiser for Garnett, who issued a statement decrying the treatment of Highlands Ranch MMJ grower Chris Bartkowicz last week. Bartkowicz was on Garnett's mind over the weekend, too.

"I have to give Stan Garnett kudos," Kriho says. "He spoke very eloquently for patients, and very eloquently against the federal prosecution of Chris Bartkowicz -- and against HB 1284," a recently passed MMJ measure "that he felt was over-regulation of the industry.

"We're fighting over seventy years of reefer-madness drug-war propaganda," she adds, "and there's still a lot of disbelief in the medical community that this is a legitimate treatment for illnesses. So this was really refreshing."

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