Top ten Westword marijuana news stories of 2011

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10. Marijuana: Colorado to formally ask DEA to designate pot Schedule II controlled substance When House Bill 1284 was passed into law, many people were upset by the regulations it created. But one small section also forced our state to take an active pro-marijuana position with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

By the end of the year (like, in a few days), the Colorado Department of Revenue director Barbara Brohl has to request that the DEA reschedule marijuana from a schedule I substance with no medicinal value, to a schedule II controlled substance with some recognized medicinal value. Unfortunately, the governors of Washington and Rhode Island beat her to the punch when they both petitioned for the rescheduling together (our own guv has declined to follow their lead).

As of December 20, the letter from Colorado hasn't been mailed. Department spokesman Mark Couch assures us that it's on Brohl's end-of-the-year to-do list, though.

9. Marijuana raid: Cherry Top Farms compliant with state, but feds still seize plants, medicine Colorado had remained somewhat free of Federal intervention in our dispensary system since shops started flourishing back in 2009, until this raid. The unfortunate part of the story? The DEA wasn't specifically targeting Cherry Top Farms at all. Instead, they were going after the owner Earth's Medicine, Nathan Do, who was allegedly illegally shipping marijuana out of state.

Federal agents followed Do as he made a delivery of what Cherry Top Farms assumed was legal marijuana to their shop and moved in to snag him. Cherry Top Farms managers swear that they were 100 percent compliant, but since Federal agents can't ignore a 2,500 plant grow when they see one - Cherry Top went down with Do and hasn't reopened since. Some argue that this proved the state's regulation system is working to keep legal shops in business while weeding out bad seeds like Do, while others say it is just a small taste of the massive raids to come.

8. Med. marijuana patients pulled over by cops talking their way into jail? When a guy who used to have to prosecute marijuana cases as judge tells you how to avoid a ticket, you listen. At least, that was the case earlier this month when Latest Word editor Michael Roberts caught up with former Lafayette judge Leonard Frieling.

Despite the urge most patients would have to hand over their card the minute any sign of trouble arises, Frieling says to do the opposite: "Don't drive impaired. Don't break two laws at the same time. And don't confess." When the cops ask "What's that I smell?," Frieling suggests responding with: "I don't smell anything," or, "If you want to have any discussions like that, they have to be arranged through my lawyer.

7. HempCon 2011: What do fake orgasms have to do with medical marijuana? As I wrote at the time: What does a skeezy beauty pageant, and "hot ass" and "best orgasm" contests have to do with medical marijuana? Nothing.

Both were scheduled events for HempCon 2011 held at the end of September, though after my phone call to the promoters for the original story they pulled the events from the schedule. Some people agreed with us, while others thought our take was prudish. Either way, the story blew up and the discussion in the comment section was one of the best all year.

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes