Rob Corry calls latest Tom Massey-Chris Romer medical marijuana bill a "multi-layered bureaucratic monstrosity"

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General Constitutional Concerns

The Colorado Constitution Article XVIII § 14 establishes a constitutional right to medical marijuana. The entirety of HB 1284, as well as the entirety of SB 109, violates the Colorado Constitution, Article XVIII § 14(8), which provides that the legislature must enact implementing legislation "no later than" 2001. (Some editions of Article XVIII § 14 misprint the deadline for implementing legislation as 1999, but this is incorrect since the measure passed in 2000, original drafts intended consideration for the 1998 election, but Colorado Secretary of State Vikki Buckley made a mistake in counting signatures.)

In the 2001 session, the legislature met the 2001 deadline, and passed legislation now codified at Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-18-406.3, which accomplishes a number of tasks including securing the confidentiality of the registry and establishing a misdemeanor criminal offense for any person, including government officials, who discloses patient, caregiver, or physician information from the confidential Medical Marijuana Registry. But in 2010, the Legislature has now missed its window of opportunity to burden this constitutional right. Any enactment is subject to challenge on this ground, and many others as well.

General Federal Concerns

Although Senator Romer said his efforts to bring marijuana "out of the shadows" are now over, this bill attempts to bring marijuana out of the shadows. Much of HB 1284 uses a liquor licensing analogy. Alcohol Prohibition (a failed policy which lasted only thirteen years) is over; Marijuana Prohibition (a failed policy which has lasted over seventy years) is ending, but not over yet. 2010 is the wrong time to attempt to bring transparency to marijuana. Not when the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are increasing their belligerence. Rogue DEA Agent Jeff Sweetin is quoted in the newspaper as opining, "It's not medicine." Sweetin also threatens Colorado's thousands of medical marijuana patients and caregivers at the point of a gun:

"We're still going to continue to investigate and arrest people... Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law," he said. "The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building and we arrest everybody. They're violating federal law; they're at risk of arrest and imprisonment."

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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