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Thursday, June 9,2011

Letters | Fight to protect dispensaries

Fight to protect dispensaries

(Re: “Seed-to-sale surveillance,” cover story, June 2.) Hopefully, everyone who saw the barcode on the picture of a cannabis leaf on the front of the Boulder Weekly realized that something has gone terribly wrong in Colorado. The purpose of Colorado’s medical marijuana amendment was to allow sick and dying people the opportunity to use cannabis without fear of law enforcement reprisal. However, it seems the opposite is becoming true, and patients have become targets for barcodes tracked by law enforcement.

The Colorado Department of Revenue will indeed be tracking every gram and seed through their massive Patient and Medicine Tracking Database and Surveillance System. The PMTDSS requires surveillance cameras in every MMC that law enforcement, including the DEA, can have direct access to through the Internet in real time on demand. Additionally, law enforcement is allowed to search MMCs at any time, without a warrant or probable cause.

HB 1043, which was just signed by the governor, explicitly removes all constitutional protection from MMCs. The state is creating an entirely new database of patient purchases in the PMTDSS, forcing patients to surrender their confidentiality to shop at an MMC. Patients’ rights to use a private caregiver instead of an MMC have also been destroyed by the legislature, leaving patients no options that don’t involve the police.

Attorney Jeff Gard is wrong that Colorado’s medical marijuana amendment did not “grant the right to sell.” The Constitution clearly states that “acquisition, possession, manufacture, production, use, sale, distribution, dispensing, or transportation” of marijuana for medical purposes are legal. Dozens of dispensaries operated here legally since at least 2005 without a single prosecution. Attorney General John Suthers actually issued a memo in 2009 saying dispensaries had to pay sales tax. If these businesses were illegal in 2009, why didn’t he have them shut down? Instead, he told them to pay taxes.

But Gard and many others have fallen for the law enforcement trickery that  convinced dispensaries that they “needed” regulation to become “legitimate.” The truth is that the state needed to create these new regulations so they could shut down the dispensaries that were legal under the Constitution.

Join the movement to restore Constitutional protection to patients and dispensaries. And contribute to CannabisLawsuits.com.

Laura Kriho, Cannabis Therapy Institute/Boulder

Rent control isn’t the answer

(Re: “Rent control revisited,” In Case You Missed It, June 2.) Seriously? Rent control as a solution to the high cost of housing? That’s akin to taxing doctors to cure cancer. Why are landlords responsible for the high cost of housing? The Weekly is presuming that the landlords are gouging their tenants. Does it occur to the Weekly that those landlords paid dearly for their assets because of the higher rent levels they command? The fact is that in Boulder County housing development is constrained, and demand has exceeded the supply since the mid- 1970s. That’s when Boulder passed its greenbelt zoning designation constraining growth and then instituted the Danish Plan, severely limiting the number of annual residential building permits available. Unfortunately, there weren’t constraints on commercial development, so Boulder now has more jobs than residents. More than 60,000 commuters travel in and out of Boulder every day largely because they either cannot find adequate housing or cannot afford to live there. Boulder is an embarrassment to thoughtful and inclusive land planning.

Colorado grew by approximately 55,000 people from 2009 to 2010. Boulder has doubled its population since the advent of the Danish Plan 35 years ago. Simple math indicates that it has grown approximately 2 to 3 percent per year. Rent control is a knee-jerk reaction to a supply problem. How does rent control deal with basic population growth?

Boulder and Boulder County are full of NIMBYs, and anti-growth sentiment is overwhelming. Their perspective is that it was OK for them to move here. Their mantra is “last in, shut the door behind you.” This attitude is the major element contributing to the high housing costs — not greedy landlords. Your publication seems more sophisticated than to buy into a bogus and unsustainable concept like rent control to address a serious issue like adequate, affordable housing.

If you want to solve the affordable housing problem, promote an across-the-board 1 percent transfer tax on all real estate sales (including commercial, because employers are actually the culprits in the problem) throughout Colorado, and then turn over the proceeds to the Housing Authorities to build more affordable housing. Now that’s a real solution to a very real social problem.

Charles Bailey/via Internet

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"Seed to Sale"

I appreciate Laura Kriho's advocacy and commitment to the legalization of marijuana - medical or otherwise, but she is overeading Amend. 18/20.  It is true that Amend 18/20 contains language permitting a primary caregiver to "distribute" and "dispense" medical marijuana to their patient.  It is important to understand that the relationship between primary caregiver and patient is exclusive, cannot be delegated and that the provision of medicine is one of several duties a primary caregiver owes to the patient to whom they have committed to assume "significant responsibility" for management of the well-being of a patient diagnosed with a chronic debilitating condition.  In the 2009 case, People v. Clendenin, the Colorado Court of Appeals stated that providing medical marijuana, alone, does not constitute "significant responsibility" and that the primary caregiver is required to provide other services including, but not limited to, medical appointments, transportation, housekeeping, errands, etc. In practice, pre-HB1284 dispensaries were organized under a primary caregiver model of legal protection. However, most of the dispensaries utilized "caregiver for the day, hour, while the patient is in the store, etc." agreements to provide the appearance of a substantive primary caregiver/patient relationship.  In some cases, the dispensary re-assigned the primary caregiver rights to a grower, who sold medical marijuana back to the dispensary and the grower had little or no contact with the patients.  As such, the dispensaries were far removed from the close relationship of primary caregiving set forth in Amend. 18/20 and were merely operating retail medical marijuana businesses.  Simply, put, Amend. 18/20 does not provide for a retail business model.  The legal protection afforded those businesses pre-HB1284 was tenuous, if not non-existent.  HB1284 changed all that and now permits licensed and regulated medical marijuana centers to produce and provide medicine to any patient.  As long as the business is legally compliant, it is not subject to state criminal prosecution.  I sympathize with the complexity, cost and burden of the strict regulations imposed by the state, but freedom from prosecution and legitimization of this industry is a worthwhile price to pay.


Those whose income depends on the black market are no doubt giddy with joy at the legal cluster-fest this new legislation purports to create. Simply put, placing ANY restrictions on the least-toxic medicinal herb known to mankind more onerous than the licensing of wine distribution is *MURDEROUSLY STUPID*.