Drug Policy

Colorado Explicitly Authorizes Marijuana Dispensaries


Today Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed a law that authorizes government-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. "Primary caregivers," who are allowed to grow cannabis for patients under the voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized the medical use of marijuana in 2000, will now be limited to five patients each and generally will be permitted to grow no more than six plants per patient (although exceptions can be made based on medical necessity). Yet the law also allows larger-scale dispensaries to stay open, provided they obtain state and local licenses, grow at least 70 percent of their marijuana, operate at least 1,000 feet from the nearest school, and meet various other requirements. The Marijuana Policy Project says "hundreds" of the state's existing dispensaries will be able to stay in business, although municipalities would be allowed to ban them altogether.

Another bill signed by Ritter today requires that doctors who recommend marijuana have "bona fide" relationships with their patients:

The new law will require doctors to have completed a full assessment of the patient's medical history, to talk with the patient about the medical condition that has caused them to seek marijuana and to be available for follow-up care. The law also prevents doctors from getting paid by dispensaries to write recommendations.

Colorado now joins New Mexico, Rhode Island, Maine, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., on the list of jurisdictions that explicitly authorize medical marijuana dispensaries. The new rules eliminate the ambiguity that had allowed the DEA to continue raiding cannabis suppliers despite the Obama administration's policy against prosecuting those who comply with state law. If the DEA raids state-licensed dispensaries in Colorado (or elsewhere), it will be clear that the alleged shift in policy means nothing in practice.

Medical marijuana advocates plan to challenge the provision that permits local governments to ban dispensaries, which in theory could lead to statewide prohibition, contrary to the state constitution's medical marijuana provision.

NEXT: ObamaCare's First Victim? "The rules changed in the middle of the game."

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  1. If the DEA raids state-licensed dispensaries in Colorado (or elsewhere), it will be clear that the alleged shift in policy means nothing in practice.

    So who thinks a raid will be forthcoming shortly? I do, but I’d love to be wrong. But Obama’s given me no reason to believe a single fucking thing he says, so I have to assume he lied about this too.

    1. Yes, and you’re so objective about Obama, you true-believing head-up-your-ass right-wing fuck.

      1. *barf*

      2. Been hitting the sauce hard today, eh Max?

        1. Max accidentally left the R out of his name.

      3. Max, I find your impotent rage to be so yummy and sweet; but how does it taste to you? Like failure? Overcooked okra? Bourbon vomit? Tell us.

      4. Right wing? Max, baby, you really don’t get it do you?

      5. Actually buddy, I voted for Obama, and I agree with the comment made by Episiarch here. The president is very adept, like all politicians, at saying one thing and doing another. I am disappointed at the level of rhetoric he engages in as well.
        As a caregiver and patient, let me tell you a little something you may not realize: The president’s official policy is that marijuana has no known medicinal value, and he has no intention of rescheduling it from schedule 1 to schedule 2 controlled substance, which would certify medicinal use of cannabis, and IMMEDIATELY stop the raids on medical opperations. This is a clear example of what I was talking about earlier: the president instructing the DEA by memo not to raid medical opperations working within the guidelines of state law is nothing but rhetoric: if he really meant what he says, he’d use his powers to reschedule cannabis, either by installing a surgeon general who understands cannabis’ value as a medicine, or by other means. It is something within his power to effect change on–instead, he has decided to continue waging war on people like me and you, who voted for and supported him.
        I also think a raid is coming soon. The new law essentially forces these dispensaries to have grow gigantic grow operations that qualify for the most severe federal penalties–the locations of these operations will be pretty easy for the feds to ascertain, since there is so much documentation of where they are, how many plants they have, and who is involved, under the new law. I think the law actually was intended to result in HUGE federal raids that kill medical marijuana in Colorado. If not under Obama, then what happens if a Right Winger is elected president? Suddenly these operations are sitting ducks for long term prison sentences in federal prison.
        Get your facts strait–just because someone doesn’t blindly support the president doesn’t mean they are some conservative fuck, as you said. If you aren’t going to think for yourself, then you are just the liberal version of all those George Bush followers we all despised…..

  2. The whole primary caregiver dispensery concept is bullshit. If one of their patients dies from neglect can they be sued by a pissed off relative? They are claiming to be the primary caregiver. Just friggin pass a decent law already instead of disguising a business as a PRIMARY caregiver.

  3. Life Imitates Art Dept.: How long until Colorado outlaws KFC?

  4. You know what would round out today’s Reason line up? A story about pot selling prostitutes…

    1. Jewish pot selling prostitutes, ironically named Madeline.

      1. Or Helen

  5. Governor Ritter should be arrested for mass murder.

  6. Does anyone know how many times a dispensary has been raided by the feds in the last year?

    1. Too damned many.

      It would be interesting to see a graph of dispensary raids over the last several years, though.

  7. Coloradoan here.

    There have been very few raids. Since 1 year ago, dispensaries have popped up everywhere. Besides the usual prohibitionist hand-wringing, there have been relatively few problems…

    Things were very “noisy” at the start. (local news “scare/think of the children” stories & the usual politician doublespeak) But, it has quickly become sort of a non-issue as the reality the fear-mongers painted has failed to materialize.

    Also, quality is UP and price is WAY DOWN.

    1. I disagree that quality is up–the medicine I see in 9 out of 10 of the dispensaries I work with is never up to my standards–it’s all hydroponic trash.
      As for price, it’s very similar to what it has always been. MAybe you are getting it cheaper than before, and perhaps to you the quality is better than before, but I’ve been in the industry ten years and I can see that by my standards quality is declining. Plus, the new law will probably eventually drive prices up, but quality will improve as people move back out onto the black market to get away from mass produced dispensary crap. Don’t get me wrong, a few places are definitely doing it right and I hope they succeed: others are just focusing on yield no matter what the effects on the patient are (hint:why use a wholistic cure like cannabis if it’s going to be pumped full of harmful chemicals in the production process?)

    2. Michael is right. Quality is not up at all and prices are only marginally lower but that is for wholesale not patient prices. I have almost 20yrs experience and I can say authoritatively that most of the product I see available retail is complete crap and the prices are ridiculous. With my 20 patients I safely and quietly provide prices of $250-300 max for top quality medicine that I put a lot of time, love, and knowledge into. I won’t even smoke most of the chemy trash they are selling for $400/oz in the retail shops. Yet the new law puts me out of business and instead gives all power and authority to mass production, marginal quality retail centers instead. The law favors profit-minded business people instead of experienced, true professional caregivers like me. Truth is, I will always produce the best quaility. Now, I’m only allowed to do it LEGALLY for 5 patients. Well, that arbitrary requirement does not generate enough revenue to justify the time and effort. I’ll have to charge $400/oz instead of my usual $25o-300/oz just to try and cover costs. Not to mention I now have no legal way to get rid of excess and subsidies the medicine of my own patients. This means I must choose to drop my low, fixed income MS patient who I basically give medicine to and keep my lesser need, wealth patients who can afford to buy more medicine regardless of price.

      Bottom line, this law is silly to say the least and will result in a huge reemerging black market and all the problems we worked hard to “weed out” in the past two years.

  8. The whole legalization thing is an interesting litmus test for libertarians.

    On the one hand, you have the purists who oppose anything other than completely unregulated and untaxed pot. Something they will never see, short of an apocalyptic collapse of society.

    On the other hand, you have the incrementalists who are willing to take gradual steps, even though they aren’t happy with the result.

    Guess which approach is likely to result in more freedom?

    1. Re: RC Dean,

      Guess which approach is likely to result in more freedom?

      Considering Prohibition was repealed in one whole swoop and not through an incrementalist approach, I would say I will go with Door Number 1 . . .

      1. Considering Prohibition was repealed in one whole swoop and not through an incrementalist approach,

        Except for the whole paragraph in it about allowing states to ban importation or transportation through or into the state.

      2. Purist libertarians would have opposed the repeal of Prohibition, since it allowed the regulation and taxing of alcohol by the states.

        1. Re: RE Dean,

          Purist libertarians would have opposed the repeal of Prohibition, since it allowed the regulation and taxing of alcohol by the states.

          You’re equivocating. So-called “purists” would have objected to the regulating provision in the amendment, but would not have objected to Prohibition per se.

        2. I don’t oppose half-ass “medical” or “Tax it! Regulate it!” marijuana proposals I just don’t support them. Any initiative allowing possession and personal cultivation is good because those rules and revenue-raising can and will be circumvented. I don’t think there should be any laws against gambling but I was adamantly opposed the state lottery.

      3. During the period of alcohol prohibition, doctors were allowed to prescribe alcohol for “medicinal” use,and companies sprang up like the American Medical Whiskey Company.

        So the current situation with marijuana is now, at long last, not quite as free as alcohol was during prohibition.

    2. On the one hand, you have the purists who oppose anything other than completely unregulated and untaxed pot. Something they will never see, short of an apocalyptic collapse of society.

      On the other hand, you have the incrementalists who are willing to take gradual steps, even though they aren’t happy with the result.

      I don’t believe your two extreme positions are the only ones (nor are they even the mainstream ones regarding the issue)

      What about those who would be accept treating it like cigs and alcohol

      Regulated and kept out of the hands of minors (i know,,,growing your own makes this issue a bit more difficult, but if people can brew their own beer, there is probably a way to handle the home grower)

      1. What about those who would be accept treating it like cigs and alcohol

        Those would be the incrementalists.

        1. I don’t think so.

          Decriminalization and Medical MJ — thats incrementalist.

          Legalizing and regulating seems like a good final place, rather than a step toward something, no? That would be the preferred final outcome.

          1. , no?


  9. The new rules eliminate the ambiguity that had allowed the DEA to continue raiding cannabis suppliers despite the Obama administration’s policy against prosecuting those who comply with state law.

    How many of you are willing to bet that the DEA raids against users and dispensaries have nothing to do with the apparent ambiguity of a state’s medical marijuana laws? That these laws were no deterrent to begin with, rendering the point that the ambiguity “allowed” the DEA to do anything, moot?

  10. I wonder if Colorado will have the same problems that NV is having…

    ?A 30-year-old Nevada man on Wednesday chose a month in jail instead of probation which would have meant he couldn’t use medical marijuana for one year.

    Balzer has a legal medical marijuana card from the Nevada State Health Division. He told [Judge] EnEarl he smokes cannabis and takes a prescription painkiller for a back injury.

    If Balzer had accepted probation, he could have avoided the jail term, but one condition would have been that he not use “drugs or alcohol” for one year.

    In an unaccountable quirk of the law, use of doctor-recommended medical marijuana is considered violation of probation, despite the fact that it is legal in Nevada.

    Judge EnEarl seemed to be totally oblivious to the fact that Balzer’s marijuana use is legal; beyond that, the judge seemed completely unsympathetic to the patient’s medical plight.

    “You’d rather do 30 days in jail than have me tell you you can’t smoke dope?” the ignorant judge fumed. “Doesn’t that sound a little sick?” the judge asked

    No, sir,” Balzer said. “It’s what the marijuana does for me.”

    “I think if I sat around smoking dope all day, it would probably help me out, too,” the proudly ignorant judge replied.

    Balzer’s lawyer, Richard Davies, reasonably pointed out that his client was legally entitled to have the medical marijuana card.

    “It’s the will of the people and the Legislature recognizes that,” Davies said.

    “Some people marijuana probably does help,” Judge EnEarl said, not bothering to mention how he suddenly became a medical expert. “I am not necessarily convinced Mr. Balzer is one of them.”

    So in Nevada, Medical MJ is legal, but it is a violation of your probation (in this case the guy got probation because of a harassment charge he pleaded guilt to) and the judges apparently get to decide on their own if it helps you or not.

    1. “So in Nevada, Medical MJ is legal, but it is a violation of your probation…”

      Not really unexpected. In Texas, alcohol is not only legal, it is ubiquitous. Health food stores sell beer & wine, and health food restaurants serve alcohol.

      But if you are on probation in Texas, you cannot drink alcohol or go to a restaurant that serves alcohol.

    2. Well he won’t have any problem getting pot in jail.

  11. Medical Marijuana forum for patients and caregivers to now connect in the chilly waters ahead.

    High Country Caregiver Medical Marijuana Forum

  12. Actually what the Obama Administration said was…. “we will only get involved when the State law is not being followed”.

    So NOW they have MANY more restrictions. Such as you can’t sell marijuana after 7pm. You can buy a gun, a bottle of whiskey, get a lap dance, and then go to the drive thu drug store and buy some oxycodone to get all jacked up on. But OOPS! The medical marijuana dispensary is closed. Can’t get my medical marijuana until early the next morning.

    Your little town with retirees that are now suffering from cancer, parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, hiv, aids, seizure disorders, severe pain, etc. may not be able to buy marijuana in their town because their town can now ban it.

    If you moved to CO and spent all your life savings opening a dispensary you’ll have to close it because god forbid you open in their state. If you haven’t lived their for 2 years you can not own a dispensary.

    Don’t forget to send in the clowns for this one. How about the fact that marijuana reduces tumors, stops cancers from spreading, and turns off cancer cells in some cancers. This has all been proven in a lab. YET in CO the big smart legislatures think it is wise to have a law where if you are dying you have to pay the State a fee to get your medicine, and then get a card in the mail over 6 months later stating that you were denied you card because you didn’t fill out your application in blue ink.

    The whole setup is a joke.

    These politicans are morons. And anybody else who is slamming the use of marijuana for medical OR social use, better learn how to use google because there is plenty of ALL GOOD information and NOTHING BAD.

    There has been ZERO increase in crime in Denver.

    There has been ZERO deaths from marijuana in 5,000 years.

    Marijuana is non-toxic – you can NOT die from it.

    Marijuana STOPS seizure patients from seizing.

    Marijuana has helped hundreds of thousands of patients reduce VERY VERY DANGEROUS and TOXIC pain pills.

    There should only regulation on the cleanliness and quality. NOTHING ELSE. If you want it grow it.

    It is harmless, and can help a great deal.

    GOOGLE – WHY is marijuana illegal?
    For the REAL STORY.

    It is not a gateway drug. That is like saying I used to drink milk, and now I drink beer – so milk is a gateway drink. It is a LIE. NOBODY I know that smokes marijuana takes any other drug. NOT ONE OF THEM!

    It is NOT a gateway drug. That is like saying if you EVER smoked pot you probably do other drugs. Stop letting people lie to you, and take control of your own mind and wake up people. Marijuana makes people relax, helps sleep, appetite, has healing properties unlike any other herb. It is an absolute TRAGEDY that it has not been used fully to help people only because the big pharma companies can’t patent it!! WAKE UP!

  13. I’m doing a report in support of legalization of marijuana, and I’m finding out something funny. There isn’t one single concrete study made by the government to support the claims of all the negative effects that marijuana supposedly has.

    The closest I found was a multi-billion dollar study (in the 70s) that Nixon approved.

    The conclusion was that there was nothing wrong with the use of marijuana for personal enjoyment.

    If you can prove me wrong, PLEASE send me proof.

    1. That same government study essentially suffocated monkeys with marijuana smoke, cutting off oxygen to the brain.

      1. It was the 70s; we put lipstick in their eyes, too.

  14. I apologize, i asked for proof without actually providing it, so here it is:


  15. http://www.druglibrary.org/sch…..ncmenu.htm

    Sorry, pasted the link twice in a row by accident.

  16. One thing I have not heard addressed is this.
    Let’s say a city the size of 40,000 ppl. decide to ban MMC’s.
    On a low average 30% of them would be card holders (or 2,800 ppl)
    With 5 patients per caregiver this city would need 2,400 caregivers.
    If everyone of those caregivers have 6/1,000 wt. lights running that is going to draw a critical ammount of power from the local grid.
    Does the term Colorado rolling blackout mean anything to anybody. Wise up people!!!

  17. sorry that’s 560 caregivers for a city the size of 40,000

  18. Rolling blackouts?? This ain’t California. Colorado can produce it’s own energy, unlike California which relies on other states(Nevada & Colorado) for energy & water. There is plenty of energy in Colorado. We are setup to be the leading state in Medical Marijuana Legalization. California is just a Quagmire.

  19. rofl chefja thats the most retarded thing i have ever heard. And anyone paying $400 for an oz. is a fuckin nub.

    just leaglize and tax it already.. ill toke to that.

  20. Your math, it makes my head hurt.

  21. You know..I only want to be able to grow a few plants in my friggin closet.
    I really dont care about the dispensaries or amount of them. Im like alot of people. Im on SSD from a spinal cord injury an just cant afford buying period. I get by with 150 an OZ crap that bearly works an tastes like ass..I also live in red as the sun Arizona..We are suppose vote again in Nov. Im not going to hold my breath.
    Over here a seed or pack of papers (any kind) is a FELONY. Im sure Ill be moving to a move friendly state..California is way to expensive unless you want to live in Needles an drive 40 miles round trip to buy anything…like FOOD. Im lookin at colorado..the southwest area. Am I a fool to hope I can find rent for 500-600 a month?…Id appreciate any leads or tips that may help me get the hell out of John McCains backyard.

    Thank you

  22. I think this sounds like a long and dangerous run-around just to see if the Feds will still come in and bust marijuana dispensaries. If stores are still getting raided, the city, county and state should all receive a fine for taking the money and not protecting owners who are paying to be “licensed.” I’m with kakman, just let us all grow ourselves and use the convenience of the stores for chocolate edibles and weekend party supplies. If only the stores can grow the weed, the black market will never disappear. It will certainly lower the price, but people will still be getting locked up cause they can’t afford to pay by the gram at limited stores. I pray there are transportation laws in place with this one or how else are people with grow permits able to get it to the dispensaries? I would love to hear anyone’s comments on our documentary about outdoor growers who risk everything to keep the supply constant and dank across America, the greatest country on earth.


    Casey Casseday
    Producer, The Green Rush

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