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Colorado Advocates Fight Stasis

Posted By Bruce Haring On January 6, 2010 @ 5:38 pm In News | 1 Comment

Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation (http://www.commr.org/) is a coalition of patients, dispensaries and growers seeking “responsible statewide regulation” for medical marijuana. The coalition hopes to see a bill that it helped draft introduced in the Colorado legislature later this month.

The Marijuana Business Reporter caught COMMR spokesman Matt Brown for three quick questions.

Marijuana Business Reporter: What are the obstacles you face in the state?

Matt Brown: It seems to change day by day. The newest thing now is that the Attorney General, (John) Suthers, is working with a few law enforcement officials to push his version of a proposal that would bring things back to a five-patient limit and essentially shut down the dispensary model entirely. That’s just come up in the last day or two pretty seriously. I think it’s really just a whole lot of stasis that’s really hard to overcome, people who don’t necessarily think this is the most important issue to be talking about or don’t particularly care about the issue. We’re not getting that huge public backlash/outcry that some people expect. It’s just lots of people that seem to say, “Well, it’s just pot. What’s the problem?” That’s sometimes hard to work with.

Marijuana Business Reporter: What is the barrier that you need to overcome with law enforcement? Is it entrenched bureaucracy and years of tradition or is it something deeper?

Matt Brown: I can’t necessarily blame somebody who’s been a cop or a DEA agent for 30 years having a hard time making that switch. I think our tactical problem is realizing the extent to which law enforcement writes the laws that they want to enforce. And, really, whether it’s convincing them or explaining to them or something that the sort of regulated system we’re pushing forward should make enforcement a lot easier. If you find a high-intensity residential grow-op, that’s not legal, period. And if there’s something in a commercially-zoned spot that’s not a properly zoned and licensed dispensary that has a grow-op, there’s a mechanism for them to quickly find that information out and not have to go through the process of pulling a warrant and doing a raid and all of those things.

Marijuana Business Reporter: One of the proposals that you’re putting forth is the non-adjacency to schools and other facilities. Does that work in Colorado?

Matt Brown: It’s an issue and when we talk privately or within the industry, there’s a very strong sense of “Why is this necessary?” Of us realizing there is, in practice, an incredibly low public safety threat and these sorts of buffers probably aren’t needed on a practical level. There’s also the understanding that federal drug-free school zones are what they are, and to some degree the public wants to see some buffer for a school. You know, we have them for liquor stores here in Colorado. There’s some need there. Now, how it’s defined and how far it is are certainly worthy of discussion. But when it starts to get into private schools, day care, pre-schools, kindergartens, anything child-related, what we see is that basically the math for a city like Denver or pretty much anywhere in the state, if you have a population density like we do, you’re going to start ruling out huge sections of the city. And so if it’s just schools, looking at a map of Denver in particular, I think that’s something we can live with. But when we start really getting this longer and longer list of affected areas, then the city starts to zone us out of existence and that triggers a lot of legal set of issues.
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