Posted: Feb 10, 2011 3:32 PM by Bea Karnes
Updated: Feb 10, 2011 3:33 PM
DENVER (AP)-Colorado has nation's most detailed pot law, but state lawmakers are cracking open last year's sweeping medical marijuana rules to make some changes.
Marijuana patients are already complaining. They say lawmakers aren't considering changing some rules most hated by the industry-including increased surveillance of pot shops and a requirement that dispensaries grow 70 percent of the weed they sell.
The bill that went before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday tweaks Colorado marijuana law after complaints from the industry, from doctors and from law enforcement. Among the changes, the bill:
- Extends a moratorium on new state licenses to sell medical pot by a year, from this summer to mid-2012;
- Relaxes the requirement that people working in pot shops must have lived in Colorado two years, requiring only the owners to meet residency requirements;
- Requires pot shops to behave more like medical clinics with patient privacy, to make sure patient records don't end up in public trash cans;
- Clarifies that doctors with restricted licenses may recommend marijuana as long as the Colorado Medical Board clears them to do so;
- Sets a 500-plant limit for makers of products infused with cannabis, such as marijuana brownies.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Tom Massey, said that this year's medical marijuana bill isn't nearly as sweeping as last year's. Many of those rules haven't take effect yet, pending final rule-making by state agencies.
"What we are doing this year is really more of a cleanup" of last year's law, Massey said, indicating the changes were minor.
But marijuana advocates are vowing to fight for more revisions. Pot patients and sellers have taken special exception to the requirement that dispensaries grow most of what they sell. Lawmakers say the requirement help ensure black-market drugs don't end up in dispensaries, but many marijuana sellers compare it to requiring a grocery store to grow its own food.
"It's unenforceable; it's unworkable; it's going to decimate the industry," attorney Robert Corry said of the 70 percent requirement. Corry represents pot sellers and says he's disappointed this year's version won't address the grow-your-own requirement.
"They just need to eliminate it entirely," Corry said.
Pot advocates also complained that the bill retains surveillance requirements some patients find invasive. Those include a requirement that dispensaries record transactions, with law enforcement and tax collectors able to access records of who's buying what.
Marijuana advocates are vowing to fight the surveillance, though prospects for that are uncertain as even pot-supporting lawmakers say the industry needs more oversight.
The bill has already been revised and will likely be changed again before it reaches the full House.