Top 25 marijuana stories in Colorado in 2010: The year in weed

It's been a momentous year for marijuana in Colorado: landmark legislation, turf wars, huge profits, shocking arrests, enormous celebrations and more.

Below, we've compiled links to and excerpts from 25 of the biggest weed stories to take place in the state during 2010. Page through and breathe in the year that was.

"Senator Chris Romer to medical marijuana community: 'There's nothing so keen to focus the mind as a bullet fired near your head.'"

"It's a new industry, and I'm not blaming them for being a little naive about the legislative process," he says. "But as a famous general said, 'There's nothing so keen to focus the mind as a bullet fired near your head.'

"Maybe this sheriff's bill will finally wake up the medical marijuana community, and let them know they need to act like an adult and compromise on things like patients under the age of 21," he continues. "Because if they don't, law enforcement will be able to turn the clock back to where it was a year ago." (January 11)

"Medical marijuana dispensary owner sleeps in car and pays $5,000 for the privilege."

[Wesley Fazio] wasn't about to be caught napping when the city started accepting dispensary license applications. He arrived at the Wellington E. Webb Building at 7 p.m. on February 6, parked his car outside and slept there. "I have on long johns," he said, "But it was not a good time."

Still, his efforts paid off when he was first up in the application process at 7:30 a.m. yesterday morning. The paperwork was complete in just twenty minutes, after which he had to pay $5,033 for the application and a first-year fee -- for a dispensary that isn't even open yet -- and then have his fingerprints taken for the background check that's part of the application. (February 9)

"Tom Massey on his medical marijuana bill: 'We know we're on the right track if nobody's happy.'"

"Let's face it: By the time we finish this session and something can be enacted, we could have as many as 60,000-plus medical marijuana registry cards out there, and I don't see it as feasible that we could craft a supply chain based on people's basements across the state, or self-grows. And that would actually force us to go elsewhere for product -- out of state or I don't even want to speculate where.

"The horse is out of the barn, and we need to address the problems with today's facts." (February 9)

"Medical marijuana arrest: Chris Bartkowicz bust DEA's declaration that drug war not over."

Medical marijuana advocates have denounced these arrests, arguing that they violate the spirit of an October memorandum from Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden stating that the Justice Department should defer to states that have legalized medical marijuana -- a policy decried by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, among others.

Now, however, it's clear that Representative Tom Massey's medical marijuana bill, which was once thought to slavishly mimic law enforcement's desires on this issue, would actually liberalize policy well beyond the comfort point for the DEA.

When viewed in this light, the Bartkowicz arrest seems to be considerably more than just the smacking down of a guy who may have gotten prematurely comfortable with his business situation. It's also the DEA's de facto declaration of war against the pro-marijuana forces. (February 15)

"Medical marijuana raid fallout: 'We are not declaring war on dispensaries,' says DEA head Jeff Sweetin."

"If we were declaring war on dispensaries, they would not be hard to find. You can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting thirty of them."

As for people like [attorney Rob] Corry who are accusing his agency of launching a marijuana crusade, Sweetin says, "I think the people who claim to represent marijuana growers in this state are trying to create this fear, and I think that's sad."

Sweetin makes note of the fact that the DEA hasn't ever shut down a Colorado dispensary, and the agency doesn't plan on doing so unless there are aggravating factors involved -- like violence, ties to drug cartels or distribution to children. Yes, the DEA has conducted raids on several grow facilities, but that's because Sweetin says they were so blatantly violating even state medical-marijuana laws they couldn't be ignored. (February 16)

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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

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