Medical marijuana forum planned in Avon |

Medical marijuana forum planned in Avon

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Scott N. Miller/

AVON, Colorado – There’s a dark side to the state’s medical marijuana industry, some law enforcement officials say.

Medical marijuana has been trickling into schools, as students get it illegally from their parents or older friends who have medical marijuana cards, said Jim Gerhardt, a narcotics officer with a Denver-area drug task force.

Also troubling, he has seen cases where children are being neglected or injured because their parents are high on medical marijuana.

Plus, Gerhardt said there have been a few serious car crashes recently in his area in which medical marijuana was involved.

Pot laws and their impact in Colorado will be the focus of a presentation Wednesday at the Avon Public Library. Two members of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association will share their views on medical marijuana and field questions from the audience.

Edwards resident Buddy Sims, a vocal opponent of medical marijuana, is sponsoring the talk.

“I’m not hosting a meeting against medical marijuana,” he said. “I’m hosting a meeting for public information.”

The debate is relevant in Eagle County, where residents are set to vote Nov. 2 on whether to allow dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county including Edwards and Eagle-Vail.

“There are a lot of issues regarding the industry of marijuana that I think people should probably be well informed on before they’re going to vote, or decide whether this industry is going to be good for the community or not,” Sims said.

The Colorado Drug Investigators Association is a Denver-based nonprofit that focuses on public education on the illegal drug market and its implications for Colorado.

Jerry Peters, executive vice-president of the association, will give the talk along with Gerhardt, a sergeant with the Thornton Police Department and narcotics officer with the North Metro Task Force, an undercover drug enforcement unit for Adams and Broomfield counties in the Denver metro area.

Much of the talk will focus on the state’s medical marijuana laws. The association has studied the laws extensively and was involved in advising state lawmakers about how to keep “greed and recreational uses out of the equation,” Gerhardt said. He said dispensaries have been able to spring up because Amendment 20, the bill that legalized medical marijuana in 2000, too loosely defined the concept of caregivers.

“There’s nothing about an industry to support the growing, supplying or profiting off medical marijuana,” he said.

He also plans to discuss House Bill 1284, a state law that allows local governments to license dispensaries or ban them.

Now that the state has authorized an industry supporting medical marijuana, Gerhardt questions whether the regulations will really keep greed and corruption at bay.

“Is this truly going to be about medical necessity?” he said.

Jennifer Honan, owner of the Herbal Elements in Eagle-Vail, said she’s considering going to the presentation because she wants to hear what people on the other side of the medical marijuana issue have to say.

“I think it will be interesting to see what kind of facts are there,” she said. “I hope there will be plenty of people in attendance that also have facts and are going to be vocal on the other side of the issue.”

She finds in interesting that Sims brought in cops from Denver instead of having anyone local speaking.

Honan bristled at the idea that the new regulations on dispensaries are not strict enough, saying she recently had to fill out a 500-page application for her medical marijuana center.

“It is the most stringent regulation of any industry in the country,” she said.

Kim Barbieri, owner of New Hope Wellness Center in Edwards, said she’s very upset about tonight’s presentation because she feels Sims is trying to undo the progress medical marijuana providers have made toward helping people who need the medicine.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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