Joel Warner here, back from the
emergency Board of Health hearing. To make a long story short, the board voted 9-0 this morning to strike language stating that a marijuana caregiver has to have "significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient."
This summer, the board determined that all a caregiver had to do was provide a patient with marijuana. However, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that this concept was invalid in a decision last week. So today, the board wasted no time in chucking their whole definition into the waste bin.
The board didn't come up with a new definition, though -- suggesting that it will wait for its regularly scheduled December 16 meeting to tackle the challenge. As of now, in other words, there's no definition anywhere in state regulations stating what, exactly, it means to be a marijuana caregiver.
Rob Corry, the lawyer who represented the defendant in the pivotal appeals court decision last week, tried to suggest an alternative decision, but Board of Health chairman Glenn Schlabs refused to consider it. The meeting devolved into a shouting match, with boos and curses from the seventy-plus people in attendance, and Schlabs adjourned the whole thing.
So what's it all mean? No one knows for sure -- but click here to read our best guess.
Update, 11:44 a.m. It's all over, but not without a fight.
The meeting began at 11:30 a.m., when board of health members began discussing a wording change, says Westword staffer Joel Warner, who was inside the hearing. Then they voted unanimously to do so.
But when they announced that they wouldn't be taking public comment, the meeting quickly devolved into a shouting match between attorney and medical marijuana advocate Rob Corry and Glenn Schlabs, the chairman of the Board of Health, who was not at the meeting, but on the phone via teleconference.
Corry eventually backed off when Schlabs told him he was out of order and police began to walk toward him. Corry, who was soon surrounded by TV cameras, eventually declared the entire proceeding illegal and told Schlabs he would see him in court.
The meeting adjourned at 11:38, but most of the crowd remained.
Stay tuned to the Latest Word for analysis from Warner this afternoon.
11:03 a.m. It's a wild scene right now inside the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment building, at 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, where the Colorado Board of Health has scheduled an "Emergency Rulemaking Hearing" to discuss -- and possibly eliminate -- its definition of "significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a patient."
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Westword staffer Joel Warner reports by phone (WiFi is not working in the building) that the meeting was moved from a small room that could accommodate twenty people to a larger one with space for sixty to seventy. Still, there is a line out the door, which includes medical marijuana patients, dispensary owners and caregivers, and a number of angry people who want to be let in.
The meeting, which is also a teleconference, was originally scheduled for 10:30 a.m., but it has yet to start because of problems with the phone lines. Several Board of Health members aren't able to dial in.
The state of emergency was created by last week's Court of Appeals interpretation of "primary caregiver," a definition left purposely vague in Amendment 20, which was passed by voters back in 2000. But according to the Court of Appeals, a caregiver must do more than simply provide medical marijuana to a patient -- marijuana that may have been grown in a sympathetic person's basement, as in the People v. Clendenin case that led to the ruling.
We will provide periodic blog updates on the meeting when we can get them.