Colorado has begun issuing state licenses to medical marijuana suppliers, presenting a fresh challenge to the Obama administration, which can't seem to decide whether it will or won't be "using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue." The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Department of Revenue's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division "has issued 11 licenses to businesses in Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Littleton." Hundreds of additional licenses are likely to be approved soon. The Post says "the state has sent out letters to local governments for 467 dispensaries and products-makers to double-check that those businesses have local approval—one of the final steps in the licensing process."
Colorado's law, like California's, used to be ambiguous on the question of who was allowed to supply medical marijuana and under what circumstances. But thanks to a law approved by the state legislature last year, the Post reports, "medical-marijuana advocates say Colorado's regulations for cannabis businesses are the most comprehensive in the nation." Which means there should be no dispute about who is and who is not "in clear and unambiguous compliance" with state law, the standard that dispensaries must meet to qualify for the prosecutorial forbearance promised by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Then again, the Justice Department recently has contradicted those promises, saying that compliance with state law offers no protection for suppliers, just for patients. According to the Post, medical marijuana activists in Colorado believe the state's explicit and detailed regulations will protect suppliers from federal raids. But taking the Obama administration at its fork-tongued word, that remains an open question.
[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip and Allen St. Pierre for the photo.]