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Cannabis Nation News with Mike Boutin and Julie Rose

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 It's Time For An Honest Conversation about Cannabis!

Demand for reform of marijuana laws often involves requests to tax and regulate it.  The state of Colorado, has been referred to as the flagship template for other states to follow as it was one of the first states to adopt the "tax, regulate and control" model which started out by charging patients a "registration fee," by providing an ID card giving a patient the ability to access medical marijuana.  The fee was originally $110, then lowered to $90, and again recently lowered, and was to be spent on the costs incurred by the State Department of Health which was put in charge of registering all the patients, and issuing medical marijuana ID cards.  Which is kind of laughable when you stop and think about it.  There are people whacked out of their minds on pharmaceutical drugs that nobody is taxing regulating and controling.  Yet the state of Colorado required SICK people to pay a fee to keep track of them, if they chose a safer non-toxic medicine.  So what you ask?  Pay the fee and be glad you can access the medicine, unlike other states.  Good point, but beware of the drivers now exposed to the 5 nanogram limit that has been suggested.  What is 5 nanograms you ask?  The LOWEST amount detectable!  It's not like alcohol where a number over a certain point means you are drunk.  With THC if you have 5 nanograms, or even considerably more, it means that you have smoked within the past week.  Not to mention that a regular smoker (patient no social user), would have a much higher detectable amount, but they would not be high. 

In addition to the annual patient registration fee, it was decided by Colorado lawmakers that they needed more control over dispensaries once they started popping up. Denver, and other cities already had business regulations specifically written for the dispensaries prior to the creation of the State of Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (MMED),  that were fantastically simple, and very effective.  In fact, there had been NO problems in the time between the dispensaries opening and implementation of the MMED. 

Regardless, the state lawmakers wanted more. They came up with 99 pages of regulations for dispensaries and growers operating  in the state. Everything from the size of the cable the security equipment was to have, to disallowing anyone owing a student loan to participate as an owner, and a whole laundry list of more rules that no other business has ever been forced to endure.  Ridiculous far reaching, over stretching rules.  Like signing away all your rights. 

Additionally, no grows were allowed, unless they were connected with a dispensary.  The mad rush was on.  Growers were looking for dispensaries, and since the dispensaries were forced to now grow 70% of their own meds, they were scrambling to find growers to dive into business with.  This was not an ideal situation, as it had to be accomplished within a short deadline.  There were many deadlines, piles of paperwork, fees, and lots of stress. 

I could bore you with the laundry list of ridiculous rules, but my aim instead is to point out the fees, and more importantly what is done with those fees.  When the Health Department collected the fees for patient registration, it was written into the law that the money would be used within the Health Department to administrate the Medical Marijuana program, and this was to be a closed loop system, meaning that the fees were not to be spent on anything other than benefiting the Department of Health.  In other words if there much more money than was need to operate the program, the fees would be reduced, taking some burden off the patients.   The fees eventually accumulated (because despite having approximately 100,000 new patients paying them a fee, they had hired nobody new for over a year).  The Department of Health would cash your check, and you would not have your card for up to 3 months.   You were told to show your certified mail receipt, and your copy of the application for the patient card, or a time and date stamped copy of application if you dropped the application off in person,  if you were questioned by police.  

On the providers end, (growers and dispensaries)  along with the 99 pages of rules there were fees.  Big fees.  And more deadlines.  Remember this was all about servicing sick people.  The providers had to jump through hoops, many hoops.  And when you thought you were all finished jumping through hoops, there were more hoops to jump through.  The rules were constantly changing.  The dispensary and grow fees were based on the number of patients the dispensaries served.  Of course the fees get passed on to patients.  But this was all about helping the sick, remember? <eye roll>

Fast forward to the recent audit of the MED (Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division), and we see they made sure that the patients were looked after and the people of Colorado were protected.  <more eye rolls>