GOP lawmakers push to ban Colo pot dispensaries
Associated Press Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER – As some Colorado lawmakers try to figure how to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, others are pushing to ban them.
A referendum proposed by Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and other GOP lawmakers would require that only individuals – not shops – be able to provide medical marijuana to patients. Those caregivers would also have to help patients with the daily necessities of life.
The proposal is up for its first hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.
The state revenue department says Colorado has an estimated 1,100 dispensaries, which exist in a legal gray area. They weren’t explicitly mentioned under the medical marijuana law passed by voters in 2000 but have sprouted up in the last year after the Obama administration said it wouldn’t crack down on people following state medical marijuana laws.
Some dispensaries are lobbying for regulations to establish what is and what isn’t allowed by Colorado law, which would give them protection from possible federal drug raids.
Cities and counties also want the state to pass regulations, including the ability to ban dispensaries within their borders. Prosecutors and Attorney General John Suthers, meanwhile, have been urging lawmakers to regulate them, arguing it will legitimize an industry that they say wasn’t sanctioned under Amendment 20.
Regulations passed by the House would require that dispensary owners be licensed and undergo criminal background checks. The Senate is set to vote on them Wednesday, a week before lawmakers must adjourn for the year.
Anyone convicted of a felony drug crime would be barred from setting up shop, as would anyone who hasn’t paid child support or repaid student loans.
Dispensaries would have to grow 70 percent of the marijuana they sell, a requirement aimed at making sure pot is being sold as medicine.