Members of a task force proposing regulations for recreational marijuana in Colorado approved recommendations Tuesday that would allow for marijuana tourism but block out-of-state pot shop owners.
The Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force voted to allow people from outside of Colorado to shop in forthcoming retail marijuana stores, though the amount they could purchase at any one store would be limited.
Boulder officials have rejected more than one-third of the applications from people seeking to run medical marijuana dispensaries or growing operations in the city, slowing the pace of what once was seen as a Wild West-style rush for riches.
Ten months after the initial 119 business-license applications were turned in by Boulder's November deadline -- set when the City Council last year approved sweeping new regulations for the budding industry -- 40 medical marijuana companies have licenses to operate.
So far, 41 of those 119 applications, from existing businesses that had opened prior to adoption of the new rules, have been rejected for reasons that include zoning problems, incomplete paperwork and -- in about half of the cases -- the sometimes extensive criminal records of owners, operators and investors.
City officials say the vast majority of the 38 applications that remain in their queue have passed their initial background checks and are well on their way to being awarded business licenses.
The surge of medical marijuana use in Colorado has started another debate in the state Legislature: What constitutes driving while high?
Lawmakers are considering setting a DUI blood-content threshold for marijuana that would make Colorado one of three states with such a provision in statute - and one of the most liberal, according to Rep. Claire Levy, one of the bill's sponsors.
Under the proposal, drivers who test positive for 5 nanograms or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, would be considered too impaired to drive if the substance is present in their blood at the time they're pulled over or within two hours.
Levy, a Democrat from Boulder, said she's gotten resistance from medical marijuana advocates who fear it will restrict patients from using the drug.
"What I've tried to assure the patient advocates is that we're not talking about sobriety checkpoints, we're not talking about dragnets and massive stops," she said. "They're not going to be stopped if they're driving appropriately."
While it's already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs, states have taken different approaches to the issue. Twelve states, including Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Rhode Island, have a zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance, said Anne Teigen, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota has the same policy but exempts marijuana.
Chris Bartkowicz is a state licensed medical marijuana care-giver that was raided and arrested on the order of a Denver area DEA agent after accepting an invitation by 9NEWS to do an interview about being a Colorado medical marijuana care-giver.
A Colorado pot grower trying a first-in-the-nation drug defense based on Obama administration memos about marijuana saw his case take a serious blow Wednesday when a federal judge felled the effort.
Christopher Bartkowicz wanted to argue he shouldn't face federal marijuana cultivation charges because he started his basement pot-growing business after seeing memos from Department of Justice officials indicating the U.S. government wouldn't pursue pot cases in states that allow medical marijuana.
But U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer sided with federal prosecutors who argued the memos aren't the same as making marijuana legal under federal law.
A version of Amsterdam's “Cannabis Cup” is coming to Aspen, in which medical marijuana growers, providers, patients and others in the industry will convene over one weekend in April.
The First Annual Western Slope Cannabis Crown, organized by Glenwood Springs resident Bobby Scurlock and the owners of High Country Caregivers, will be held April 17-18 at The Gant.
The conference is open to the public and will include speakers, live music, information booths, and most notably, a competition among providers that showcases their best strains. Growers and providers will vie for the “cannabis crown.”
Scurlock said he hopes to draw about 50 dispensaries from around Colorado and their strains will be tested by Denver-based Full Spectrum Laboratories. The marijuana strains will be diagnostically tested for their THC levels and how it matches up with patients' ailments.
There also will be a “people's choice” award for those who are on the state registry for medical marijuana and have received a “golden ticket” from one of the organizers. The people's choice will narrow down the field for the crown but the ultimate winner will be based on the diagnostic test, Scurlock said.
The woman gracing Kush Colorado's centerfold is long-limbed and lovely, but the new magazine's real star is the marijuana plant she clutches to her breast.
Billed as the "premier cannabis lifestyle magazine," the slick glossy debuted in Colorado last month, one more sign of galloping growth in the state's medical-marijuana business.
The city of Denver has more than 300 medical-marijuana dispensaries, the highest number in the nation outside California.
The pace of growth in the industry prompted the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws to recently name Denver "America's cannabis capital." While Los Angeles has more than 1,000 dispensaries, Denver outstrips the City of Angels on a per-capita basis, with more storefronts selling pot than Starbucks shops peddling coffee.
Boulder already may be running out of room for medical-marijuana businesses.
In mapping out the 82 medical-marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries now licensed in Boulder, city officials say even relatively loose permanent regulations would mean the industry has nearly reached its saturation point.
The city expects to take up permanent regulations in February and March.
In November, the City Council enacted emergency rules outlining where dispensaries can operate, requiring new shops to stay at least 500 feet away from areas with three or more existing marijuana businesses, and 500 feet away from schools and day-care centers.
"It appears that most areas in the city's three major activity centers (University Hill, Boulder Valley Regional Center and downtown Boulder) are approaching saturation," a city memo reads. "North Boulder and industrial areas in the eastern portion of the city have also seen an increase in the number of applications and are nearing saturation."
Hidden camera demonstrates how to get legal marijuana in Colorado. Go with a reporter and cameraman as they navigate through the paperwork and process to get a medical marijuana recommendation in Colorado Springs. Listen to a referring physician, legislators, and more.
As Colorado's medical-marijuana industry grows, marijuana dispensaries of all types and sizes are proliferating around the state. Some resemble swanky bars or sterile dentist offices; others feel like a dope dealer's college dorm room. To help keep them all straight, Westword will be offering a no-holds-barred look at what goes on behind these unusual operations' locked doors in "Mile Highs and Lows," a regular online review of dispensaries around the metro area and beyond.
Anne Gamet poses with her pipe filled with marijuana at her Greeley home. She is undergoing chemotherapy to fight cancer and uses the drug legally after receiving her medical marijuana certificate from the state this year. Credit: Eric Bellamy
Anne Gamet doesn't know how much longer she has to live, but all that matters to the 45-year-old Greeley woman is she's living, and she's going to keep fighting as long as she can.
She has a lot to live for — her 28-year marriage to Charlie, her 27-year-old daughter Miranda, and her son 24-year-old Cody, who will not come second to any stares, stigmas or attitudes people may have when they find out how she gets out of bed each morning and how she falls asleep each night.
Because for Gamet, if it wasn't for the legalization of medical marijuana in Colorado, she wouldn't be living at all.
“When I first decided to do this, I told my husband I'm not going to do pictures,” she said of telling her story about what the medicine has done for her. “But then when I thought about it, I thought, ‘If I expect to put a new face on this thing, I sure as the heck can't hide my face.' ”
Gamet lives every day of her life thankful for the little pipe that sits on her living room table and the marijuana she legally buys to put into it.
I well remember the citywide excitement the first time “cannabis clubs” suddenly opened up throughout Hollywood where I was eking out a living as a lowly screenwriter and journalist. Then, just as suddenly, the marijuana dispensaries vanished.
Though California’s populace roundly supported the sale of medical marijuana to needy patients, the trouble—in the eyes of the federal government—ran the gamut from organized crime to allegations that nonprofit dispensaries were secretly earning money for themselves. It became a matter of the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution (“Leave everything else to the states, please”) versus the 14th (“Sorry, folks, you’re American citizens first and foremost, and that means we’re in charge”).
Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but a storm of municipal concern and debate started only recently—more specifically, after President Obama announced he would stop raids on medical marijuana businesses—when pot shops sprouted up in numerous Colorado cities, including Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins. Numerous cities have responded with moratoriums, giving themselves time to regulate dispensaries. While cities are still struggling (and will continue to struggle) with how to regulate the onslaught of medical marijuana dispensaries, it’s expected to be an issue at the state level as well.