Pot debate thrives in Avon
Vail CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado – A lively debate broke out Wednesday night at a medical marijuana forum at the Avon Library.
Medical marijuana supporters and other audience members posed pointed questions to the speakers from the Colorado Drug Investigators Association.
People on both sides of the issue batted around the finer points of
the state’s new laws for medical
At times the debate sidetracked into such philosophical issues as whether marijuana should be legalized.
Jim Gerhardt, a member of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, said medical marijuana storefronts have sprung up because of a loophole in Amendment 20, the bill that legalized medical marijuana in Colorado in 2000. He said the law loosely defined the concept of caregivers, opening up the door for the retail industry.
He said a few “rogue physicians” abused the system, doling out a large number of marijuana recommendations to people who did not fit the criteria for patients. He said some patients’ idea of “chronic pain” included an earache that had long since cleared up and knees that hurt after snowboarding.
“The walls between the patient and the recreational user broke down huge,” he said.
He said the state’s new laws, including House Bill 1284, veer from what voters approved by allowing medical marijuana centers with storefronts and pot-infused products such as brownies.
Gerhardt said House Bill 1284 does not solve the problem of regulating medical marijuana. For example, he said the association had unsuccessfully argued for state-run marijuana centers that could have been more tightly controlled than private businesses.
He said the association was concerned about profit-driven businesses taking a “Walmart approach” and crushing the smaller, more well-meaning centers.
Turning to a related topic, Gerhardt showed the audience pictures of sketchy home growing operations by supposed caregivers in the Denver metro area, all of which seemed to be operating on the fringe of legitimacy. One home contained a number of guns and a crossbow along with a large marijuana stash, while another showed shoddy, dangerous electrical wiring where the plants were growing.
Gerhardt said it is nearly impossible to monitor what growing operations, even the legal ones, do with their surplus product, particularly because the plants can range vastly in size.
He argued the state’s new laws allowing licensed, commercial growing operations will not put a damper on home growing operations, a notion several audience members disagreed with.
One of the more controversial moments came when Vail resident Danny Padnick, a 62-year-old medical marijuana patient from Vail, asked Gerhardt what he sees as the solution to the problems he presented.
Gerhardt said the solution lies in the individual. If there was no demand for marijuana, the supply would dry up, he argued. The solution lies in snuffing out the recreational component of marijuana use and the demand for the drug.
Padnick said he found that idea completely unrealistic.
“I asked him, ‘What’s your solution to all the problems you told us about with the system?’ His answer was, ‘People to abstain.’ … A solution that’s rational is to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use.”
Murphy Murri, manager of the Tree Line Medical Marijuana Center in Eagle-Vail, said she found the presentation informative.
“I definitely appreciate having the conversation in the first place, especially because they were open to our questions,” she said. “It’s unfortunate there’s not a lot of answers to our questions, but that’s also a state issue, and it’s not an issue that’s going to be solved in November or by our county commissioners.”
Eagle County residents are set to vote Nov. 2 on whether to allow medical marijuana shops in unincorporated areas.
Edwards resident Buddy Sims, a vocal opponent of medical marijuana, sponsored Wednesday night’s presentation, he says, to provide voters with information about how the stores would affect the community.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or