Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Colorado Medical Marijuana News

Boulder DA: Enforcing pot laws is lowest priority

Garnett tells county commissioners marijuana law needs more clarity

By Erica Meltzer Camera Staff Writer
Boulder Daily Camera
Posted: 09/29/2009 11:25:39 PM MDT

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said Tuesday that the
state's medical marijuana laws desperately need more clarity, and he's
not interested in prosecuting cases that fall in the gray areas between
legalization and prohibition of the drug.

Enforcing marijuana laws is his office's lowest priority, Garnett told
the Boulder County commissioners.

"I want to spend as little of my office's resources as possible
prosecuting marijuana cases," he said. "I want to be practical and
helpful to the medical marijuana community. I also want to be realistic
about what the law is."

The commissioners asked Garnett to address the enforcement around
medical marijuana after Superior and Broomfield moved to ban medical
marijuana dispensaries and comments Garnett made questioning whether
dispensaries are legal caused on uproar within the medical marijuana

In response to the controversy, a group of dispensary owners will meet
Wednesday in Longmont to discuss forming a trade association to
self-regulate the industry. They hope to forestall harsher regulations
at the state or local level.

Mark Rose, owner of Grateful Meds in Nederland, said in a phone
interview that dispensary owners need to be mindful of their impact on
the community and remember that not everyone is comfortable with
marijuana use.

"The people and the voters of Colorado have given us a great opportunity
to do something really great for people," he said. "What really gets me
is the people pushing the limits and putting a stick in the eye of the
people who didn't vote for this. If you push it too far, the backlash is
going to be way worse than what we have now."

In Longmont, a grower tried to lease warehouse space across from a
middle school, but the landlord backed out in the face of public outcry,
Garnett said. Some people want to see commercial growing operations that
supply dispensaries. He heard of another dispensary owner who wanted to
put in Fussball tables, a non-medical touch for a supposedly medical

Garnett said there should be regulations around these issues, similar to
the way liquor stores and bars are regulated. But as the law stands, he
said, it's not clear whether dispensaries are even allowed by the state
constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. That amendment
allows "caregivers" to possess marijuana to give to patients.

Garnett said he is convinced by arguments in favor of dispensaries and
understands the logic of allowing commercial growing operations to
supply them. He also thinks there are strong arguments the state
constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana does not allow for
dispensaries. He does not believe the law allows for commercial growing

Garnett said without either self-regulation or state intervention, more
towns may try to ban dispensaries, while others will use zoning to
severely limit where they can operate.

Garnett said the Legislature should provide more clarity; his job is to
decide which cases to prosecute.

"Trials should be about the facts, not the law," he said. "Cases should
not be prosecuted when there is real doubt about what the law is."

-----sidebar- ----

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett told the county
commissioners Tuesday the state's medical marijuana laws need
clarification because of discrepancies between what medical marijuana
laws allow and other drug laws ban. He said:

Whether dispensaries are even legal remains unclear. Most dispensaries
would not meet the definition of primary caregiver, but patients who are
prescribed marijuana need to buy it somewhere if they don't want to grow
their own.

Commercial growing operations probably are not legal, but if there are
dispensaries, it makes sense to have growers to supply them.

Land-use regulations likely will be the next battleground, as some
municipalities move to ban dispensaries within their boundaries and
others try to regulate where they can locate.

Liquor licensing rules may provide a model for regulating dispensaries.
It's legal to sell alcohol, but local zoning and the liquor board
regulate who can sell alcohol, where liquor stores and bars may locate
and what rules govern each.

Probation rules must accommodate probationers' rights to use marijuana
for medical reasons.

-----end sidebar-----

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or

http://www.dailycam county-news/ ci_13450163

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