Dave and Dieneka Manzanares
Eagle, CO, Colorado

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December 28, 2011
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Vail Valley Voices: Help save safe access to medicinal marijuana in Eagle

After we were granted a business license by the town of Eagle and were in business for a year, the town Board of Trustees' newly elected members joined together with some existing trustees and deemed it best to take back our business license to operate, and banned the most heavily regulated industry in Colorado from the town limits.

However, we, Eagle's sole medical marijuana dispensary, gathered enough signatures from the citizens of Eagle to reverse the trustees' split decision and put the matter to vote.

We are asking the good citizens of Eagle to please vote against banning medical marijuana dispensaries in the town.

In the last decade, voters have consistently reaffirmed their approval of medical marijuana in the Eagle Valley.

With this long-standing support, and having experienced zero criminal incidents the entire time we have been in business, we believe the well-lit, safe, taxed and heavily regulated access to medical marijuana through the dispensary model is the best way for most citizens to have access to this therapeutic medicine.

While we fully support caregivers and the great services they provide, the dispensary model is more beneficial than a caregiver-only model.

First and foremost, Colorado's dispensary system is regarded as the most heavily regulated in the world. Colorado Attorney General Suthers noted recently at the Eagle Valley Youth Coalition's Medical Marijuana Panel discussion that there are more officers devoted to enforcement of the industry's 300-plus pages of regulations through its own regulatory system (the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division) than officers in the entire Colorado Bureau of Investigations.

Additionally, all marijuana, down to the gram, produced in this system is tracked via an extensive and remotely controlled video camera system from the time it is a seedling to the time it is sold. No medical marijuana can be sold through any back doors without the loss being recognized and subsequent penalties being enforced.

Additionally, without the dispensary model, people treating themselves for conditions from cancer to severe pain will find it very difficult to find effective, and safe, non-smokable marijuana products, such as lotions, tinctures and edibles, since state-approved caregivers or underground drug dealers are not likely to have these products that are distributed through and by Colorado's regulated medical marijuana program. This, in turn, will leave patients few options other than using harmful and dangerous prescription drugs.

And, as Attorney General John Suthers noted in his recent trip to Eagle, "Prescription drug abuse is a horrendous problem. ... More people died in Colorado last year by prescription drug abuse in Colorado than by traffic accidents."

Therefore, we believe it is imperative that Eagle residents have access to medical marijuana, since, as DEA Judge Francis Young stated, "Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis."

Clearly, if given a choice, medicinal marijuana is the safer alternative to other therapeutic agents.

Lastly, with the heavy regulations on our industry there is no criminal element involved in any aspect that does not get quickly weeded out. We are required to only sell to bonafide medical marijuana patients who have a doctor's recommendation, and our books are required to be open and available for law enforcement and auditors at any time they choose to inspect them.

We believe we have run our fully transparent business in a way that is good for the community. Some of the ways we try to benefit the community is by volunteering our time organizing food drives, and in other ways such as choosing an out-of-the-way location for our business and allowing only licensed cardholders into our business.

In the future we look forward to expanding our community involvement even more by facilitating "Dine and Discuss" events at which parents are shown how to keep their children away from the truly harmful drugs, like methamphetamine and heroin, while teaching them that medical marijuana is an adult issue that is used to treat medical conditions and is not something that should be casually used.

Please help us provide a safer way to procure this medicine other than by going to an unregulated and underground market by voting against the ban on dispensaries in Eagle.

You can do this by mailing in your ballot no later than Saturday or by dropping it off at the Town Hall by Tuesday, Jan. 3. If you did not receive a ballot in the mail, you may go to the Town Hall and vote in person on Tuesday only. Thank you.

Dave and Dieneka Manzanares, owners and operators of Sweet Leaf Pioneer in Eagle, are third generation Eagle Valley residents.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 28, 2011 02:34PM Published Dec 28, 2011 02:32PM Copyright 2011 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.