April Showers… 4/20 Festival, Bill Smith, Educating Educators, Employing Cannabis Patients, and Coach Sanner

 

Alright everyone, things have been showering the movement in April.

Medical Cannabis is really grabbing a foothold in the community and people are more and more aware of the threats against cannabis businesses, progress, and patient rights. Fortunately, this momentum is proving to be a positive force in our society and additional battles of logic, science, and compassion are being won State and local levels.

On Saturday , I participated in a protest group of little league baseball players who gathered to speak out against the firing of their coach Jay Sanner by the Fountain Valley Baseball Association. Jay is a veteran coach since 2002, a Disabled Army Veteran, and father of two boys. He had colon cancer and a medical cannabis recommendation for a number of years. Recently, he was fired by the Association out of concern that he would be too messed up on prescriptions and medical cannabis to teach the kids baseball.

Audrey Hatfield, president of Coloradoans for Cannabis Patient Rights (C4CPR) held the protest with the activists, supporters, and kids and both channel 13 news and National Geographic were there to film it. Ironically, the baseball association changed the time of the game and “the Association” avoided the media and protest. This is the first time a game time was changed in many years by the association. Despite being a parent of baseball players in the game, Jay Sanner was not informed about the time change (although every other parent was).

In addition to this work against disrimination, we also helped raise awareness and fight for the MMJ student/patient “Bill Smith” (alias), whose education was threatened by his school district.

School Nurses in Colorado can’t give students MMJ medicine, despite being allowed to give Marinol (synthetic THC). Bill must use an MMJ lozenge to calm the convulsions that affect his lower abdominals to his throat. This rare condition, call myoclonus diaphragmic flutter, is like having severe hiccups that one can’t breathe through and that last sometimes up to 48 hours. It is painful and exhausting.

Over the last few weeks I helped “Bill Smith” prepare his speech for the April 20th music festival that took place in America the Beautiful Park. The day was cold and windy, but also peaceful and positive. At the last minute before his speech, “Bill” had an attack and was unable to do more than stand there as I told his story to the crowd and future millions who will know about him in National Geographic next year.

A three-part series on Medical Cannabis in Colorado will air in 2012 and it’s exciting to play a part in the history of reintroducing cannabis as legitimate medicine in society.

In fact, the CSMCC held an expert panel for educators the week before at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo called Educating the Educators. This education effort took place after the school district recanted their position to allow “Bill Smith” to return to school after medicating with cannabis. Included in the panel of experts were lawyers Cliff Black and Brian Vicente, medical cannabis physician Dr. Gedde, and internationally renowned cannabinoid biologist Dr. Robert Melemede. CSMCC President Tanya Garduno also participated in the discussion.

We invited multiple educators, superintendents, and discipline officers to learn what medical cannabis products might look like and how to use compassion in dealing with medical cannabis patients who are students in the public education system. No student should be denied the right to education simply because of their medication or condition.

The entire family has been very grateful and the story has spread far and wide as an example of how stigma should not be used to judge cannabis patients. Tolerance and understanding are needed to remove the difficulty patients face when using cannabis as medicine for their health.

Along these lines, CSMCC president Tanya Garduno also participated with the Colorado Springs Human Resources Association in thier MMJ disussion about employing medical cannabis patients. The overall response in the private sector is for HR professionals to treat medical cannabis as any other drug. Patient employees should maintain discression and avoid over-medicating when on the job. Every employer still has the right to choose and can fire an employee for any reason in Colorado. Patients should still be hesitant about disclosing thier use of cannabis, especially in jobs that have clear guidelines about drug use. For the most part, HR professionals are teaching compassionate understanding and non-discrimination against patients who use medical cannabis to treat thier condition.

In less fortunate news, patients lost two great voices on City Council as a result of this election. Unfortunately, both Sean Paige and Tom Gallagher did not receive enough votes and will be replaced by new political powers who may not be aware of medical cannabis and patient issues. We’ve already begun proactively educating these new politicians with tours of medical cannabis facilities and operations. We can only hope they are sympathetic to the cause and take the advice of former City Council that consistently promised “a favorable business environment” for medical cannabis in Colorado Springs.

On May 8, we hope Richard Skorman will have enough votes to beat developer Steve Bach in the mayor race. Everyone needs to register to vote as this is a City Mail-in Ballot election ONLY. The new form of government called “strong mayor” will be tested with one of these two men, its important the power be given to Skorman so businesses and patients can have protection from their politicians. Check out the new local e-zine for medical cannabis news in Colorado Springs: www.greenleaf420.com – kudos to these guys for covering the issues as we face them.

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The Tides of March – Part 2

 

The second major battle in March took place over House Bill 1261.

This bill was proposed by Boulder Democrat Claire Levy and infamous Colorado Springs Conservative Mark Waller. It gives an automatic DUI to those driving with more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of human blood. It should be noted that it is ALREADY ILLEGAL to drive under the influence of ANY drug. However, a specific limit that correlates to THC impairment is subjective and arbitrary according to the latest peer reviewed science. 

The limit being proposed by the State is not an actual determinant of intoxication or impairment. In fact, the arguably more dangerous pharmaceutical version of marijuana, known as Marinol, has been approved by the FDA and has instructions that patients can drive on the drug “once acclimated to its effects”. Despite the federal stance on driving with THC in one’s system, the State chose a low limit to automatically judge patients as intoxicated and issue a DUI per se. This bill removes the right for a patient to prove in court that their THC blood level did not correlate to impairment at the time of driving, to warrant the charge of DUI.

The problem with the State’s proposed limit is in the report they used to determine the 5 nanograms.

The report concluded that drivers do not pose a crash risk until they reach between 10-20 nanograms of THC per milliliter. They also determined that 18-20 nanograms is the equivalent of a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08, the current legal limit in most U.S. states and in Colorado.

I also reminded the House Judiciary Committee to keep in mind that Americans have had cannabis and automobiles for over 50 years without abnormal increases in cannabis related crashes or fatalities. Alcohol still wins this one, and the limit for it is at .08 BAC; the equivalent of 18-20 nanograms per ml according to the report used to determine the 5 nanogram limit in HB 1261.
http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2011/02/washington_law_thc_blood_level_motorists.php

We all want safe streets, but is the 5ng limit accurate and fair to patients who use their medicine daily? Will it show up in their blood at such a low level even if they haven’t used cannabis within the day? Or over a few hours?

I know this is a touchy subject between individual rights and public safety. As HB 1261 stands, I see the limit as too low and the bill lacking in protective provisions.  

This conservative figure would greatly increase the amount of cannabis related imprisonment for patients without appropriately determining actual danger to the public.

There are no limits for other narcotic medications such as vicodin, xanex, Percocet, codine, morphine, cocaine, valium, or Benadryl all of which impair ability with effects similar to those of medical cannabis.

Additionally, patients with conditions like MS, Cancer, and pain are at greatest risk of unfair prosecution when blood limits correlate, but do not effectively determine, a standard of impairment.

Waller's attitude toward patient drivers..
Waller looking bored at patient testimony

Many patients’ conditions leave them susceptible to probable cause clauses within the current construct of police procedure. Specifically, MS patients can shake or have dilated pupils regularly.

By showing their red card to police, are patients increasing their risk of unfair treatment and arrest? Is using one’s constitutional right as a defense self-incriminating if a patient shows an officer their red card? 

In Colorado Springs, there have been reports of “random pull-overs” of people leaving cannabis facilities in which the officer asked only for proof of a red card. They did not ask the driver for their license or insurance.

This is already a real threat for constitutionally protected patients that HB 1261 fails to address. There is a lack of provisions in this bill to protect legitimate patients from police powers when determining probable cause. As it stands, the subjective smell of cannabis alone could warrant search and seizure as well as the mandatory blood test from patients. What’s to stop officers from sitting outside a dispensary to find violations and target patients?

Unlike closed-contained alcohol, recently purchased and sealed cannabis has an odor that police can subjectively interpret as probable cause for a blood test and DUI charge.

Just laws should be made taking into consideration the widest understanding of medical compassion possible for patients. In other words, the punishment should fit the crime and the last thing people want to see from their government is compassionless laws that criminalize the medication people CHOOSE to use.

The law does not protect patients sufficiently against unjust probable cause solely on the premise they smell or have marijuana in their possession. It also uses a very low and arbitrary limit to base a DUI on. There should be additional provisions in the bill dictating appropriate police procedure to determine a DUI after a legitimate Red Card license has been presented to an officer.

For example, does the patient have open or recently used cannabis in sight? Can they explain the smell of cannabis as a recent purchase rather than an ASSUMPTION of use?

Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee voted to put this through the legislature and this bill is on its way to becoming the first Colorado marijuana DUI bill. Although we cannot argue against setting limits for THC drivers to make safer streets, we can call out the ignorance of scientific fact by Colorado politicians and the failure to protect patients as guaranteed by the Constitution from unfair police targeting and prosecution.

As always, I encourage readers to participate in exercising their power as citizens and voters and to write the Colorado legislature. Let them know about these issues affecting the rights of every Coloradoan and patient.

 House Judiciary Comittee:

mark.barker.house@state.co.us; mark.waller.house@state.co.us; brian@briandelgrosso.com; crisanta.duran.house@state.co.us; pete.lee.house@state.co.us; claire.levy.house@state.co.us; rep.nikkel@gmail.com; su.ryden.house@state.co.us; jerry.sonnenberg.house@state.co.us

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The Tides of March Part 1

This month has been trying for medical cannabis and patients to say the least.

It started on March 1st when State law makers proposed House Bill 1250. This bill directly threatened the medication options of thousands of patients over the illusionary danger that children may mistake edibles for actual food items. In fact, the sponsor of the bill, Cindy Acree used this in her argument to propose this bill. In short, HB1250 proposed a ban on ALL edibles and infused products across Colorado.

When I traveled to the Capitol building in Denver to testify against this bill, I found myself delighted to see so many advocates, patients, business owners, and citizens who turned out to oppose this ridiculous piece of legislation. We also found out, last minute, that the legislator of the bill (Cindy Acree)changed HB1250 provisions to require the State to mandate packaging requirements on infused products instead of an outright ban.

Immediately, it appeared the legislator was ignorant to existing law. After all, HB 1284 created an administrative arm (MMED) to create and enforce whatever rules they deem necessary to control the tide of cannabis business. Packaging is included in these rules. In fact, it is just one requirement in their 100 pages of Emergency rules that will be applied to cannabis centers across the State.

The testimony in favor of HB 1250 on behalf of the State included Representative Acree and police officers. The police primarily testified about isolated and resolved cases involving schools who’ve had students bring medical cannabis edibles to class. Their argument was that products like “Cap’n Chronic” and “Pot Tarts” would confuse children into cannabis use. Although this argument was supported by Acree, the police, and the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, it had no actual basis.

Pot Tarts were an illegal product discontinued in 2006, out of California, and Cap’n Chronic is just a t-shirt design. These misleading products don’t actually exist in Colorado. Read here for more details on this charade.

The change to requiring packaging from the State legislation instead of the Medical Marijuana regulatory administration leaves the law convoluted and bypasses the powers granted to the MMED in HB1284. Right now, politicians are attempting to create their own packaging requirements and have approved this bill to go to the finance committee on a 7-3 vote.

This is an example of what Representative Acree has in mind for the industry in HB1250.

How Legislators unnecissarily bypass the powers they gave to the MMED in the first place.
Courtesy of Cannabis Therapy Institute

How she thinks her rural background and experience in organizational development qualify her to know more than Regulatory Veteran Matt Cook and his panel of over 30 medical marijuana industry experts and lawyers, should make patients and supporters question Acree’s objectives.

After all, why would she use her power to bypass the powers already vested in the MMED?

In the end, the fight appears to be an appeasing move by the State in Amending HB 1250 to dictate packaging requirements already demanded and being supplied by the market. Politicians continue abusing legislative power to create this redundant Statute that will mandate compliance with both State dictated and MMED created packaging regulation. Is this additional law being made just to penalize violators even more harshly, give legislators more power, or are we “protecting the children” as these politicians claim?

Serious questions warranting serious consideration when the survival of medical cannabis business and the health of patients are on the line. As always, I encourage writing these politicians and voicing your opinion regarding their actions and this bill:

mark.barker.house@state.co.us; mark.waller.house@state.co.us; brian@briandelgrosso.com; crisanta.duran.house@state.co.us; pete.lee.house@state.co.us; claire.levy.house@state.co.us; rep.nikkel@gmail.com; su.ryden.house@state.co.us; jerry.sonnenberg.house@state.co.us

Up Next… The HB 1261 Fight

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Colorado Springs 2011 MMJ Industry Overview

Sorry for missing a post in January. 2011 has been busy beyond belief so far and multiple movements are happening on multiple fronts. I am managing a new medical cannabis center known as NaturaLeaf and have been working hard to design patient oriented offerings and services. I am implementing our promotion along patient, not product lines and hope to help many sick people have access to medical cannabis.

In 2011, some major factors will shape the industry and define the medical cannabis market in the only state that allows for-profit MMJ centers. The biggest affecting factor is State legislative power in the Department of Revenue and Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. These administrative powers allow the MMED to create and enforce any rule they deem necessary. The problem with these rules is they are based on Amendment 20 models originally intended to be small and residential in scale and do not take into effect commercial needs. They propose the State creates a $4 million dollar database meant to track every patient, sale, and plant in addition to strict production limitations.

To save tax payer money, protect patient privacy, and implement a more logical approach, I wrote the MMED a few letters. In them, I describe how tracking plants is illusionary to regulating finished weight. If one center yields 1oz from a plant and another 6oz, what is being regulated in a per plant limit? Only finished cannabis has any use or market value anyway so the number of plants becomes secondary to the weight of final yields. This is how other agricultural models are regulated.

The other concern from our CSMCC members at the first member breakfast meeting was that of patient privacy. Patients do not want to feel like parolees and should not have to have records on their number of purchases, video surveillance on every visit, and a statewide tracking database available to law enforcement. Pharmacy companies are not required to do so with their patients for every pill a patient is prescribed.

Finally, I argued for the delivery of medication to non-designated homebound patients. Many times chemotherapy, surgeries, and other health ailments may make it impossible for patients to commute to a medical cannabis center. It is imperative that centers be able to care for their temporarily homebound patients during the most difficult times of their lives.

In addition to these regulatory threats, the industry is also facing a change in political power in Colorado Springs. Many city council members are moving on and will be replaced by 5 of 15 candidates running for election. Additionally, the strong mayor form of government is coming into effect and the new mayor will have much more decision power in our local government. As soon as the new city council is elected, they will be making decisions on the licensing regulation we set into motion over a year ago. Already, we’ve begun educating these candidates through CSMCC sponsored tours. Many of them have asked for our help in gathering signatures for their campaign and we’ve been happy to help.

It is very important that the right candidate take office to ensure the positive MMJ business environment promised by the existing city leadership. Politically, this gives many council members the opportunity to wash their hands of any negative results should the new leadership decide a different direction for MMJ patients and business.

Another big concern is Medical Marijuana Criminal Enforcement Division, also known as the MMED. This regulatory enforcement agency has already looked at a few centers in town and some raids have occurred. For the majority, compliance will be a big concern as these enforcers will be holding businesses to 100 pages of emergency regulatory rules come March 1. This is the expected deadline of the state for center to begin full compliance.

Those not meeting the standard will be punished as outlined in the new rules with heavier penalties for multiple offenses. Additionally, owners and registered managers will be subject to criminal charges if out of compliance.

These measures are all moving Colorado toward the forefront of medical cannabis business in the US. These models may be repeated as additional states pass similar legislation and it is exciting to be a part of new market progression. Many patients are benefiting and many jobs are being created. By July, new market entrants will join and invest heavily in State compliance and new or expanding operations. Expect the market to change as businesses adapt to survive and thrive against these new forces. Already competition has driven the commodity price of cannabis down to around $2500 per pound and this should continue to drop as businesses go under and supply lines are efficiently optimized.

Overall, these forces will help mold the new MMJ industry into a functionable and complaint industry under full taxation and monitoring. As these steps are taken, expect the first round of market entrants to die off as larger, more adept players step in to acquire and expand MMJ business. The largest threat to current market participants lies, as always, in the government imposing regulation with limitless power to do so. Centers would do well to label, market, and image themselves in accordance with voter’s intent and focus on patient wellness, and not necessarily the product we sell for patients.

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Colorado Springs Now a Favorable Business Environment for MMJ

As I look back on my calendar in MS outlook, I remember the day of December 14th most vividly. As explained in my previous post, we had a less than favorable decision from the City Planning Commission in their recommendation to City Council.  Literally, City Planning officials disallowed public comment and even made points to say the city “sold its soul to the devil” by allowing medical cannabis facilities to operate.

On Tuesday December 14th 2010, the City Council reviewed the proposed ordinance to zone away over half the Colorado Springs MMJ industry. As a reminder, this ordinance would have limited the allowable floor space for growing plants in a medical cannabis facility to a maximum of 20% of the total space. It would have also increased minimum distancing requirements from 400 to 1000 feet for MMJ facilities.

With requirements from House Bill 1284 requiring facilities to produce 70% of their total inventory, it’s a wonder this was even put in front of City leaders for consideration. Other illogical considerations went before city council in this ordinance and, for once, compassion won the day over short sighted political bias. In simpler terms, we won.

One victory in what is a war of countless battles against the City of Colorado Springs, its conservatism, and our elected leaders. From 2 proposed ban initiatives since February of last year to the vote on 1A, the battles have always been uphill against a stronger force. December 14th marked a historical time where the people won, through sheer numbers and strong voice against the assumptions of establishment.

Forever more, MMJ will be allowed to stay under the reasonable terms selected and advocated for by the people most impacted by legislation. Days like December 14th make me proud to be American and to live in a State like Colorado. I cannot thank everyone who spoke, wrote letters, and made the calls for change in our community.

Democracy in action is exactly what happens when the City Council Chamber is packed with concerned stake holders all prepared to voice their opposition to the City Planning Commission’s recommendations. After waiting for over 7 hours to give their 2 cents in a 2 minute speech, much of the industry was relieved and over joyed when the City Council promised to keep their word and to accept city staff recommendations that ensured no one would be shut down. Not a single center was closed because of separation requirements, zoning changes, or arbitrary distancing.

Not a single vote was cast against the MMJ community by ANY of the city councilors; including Darryl Glenn.

Everyone voted in favor of MMJ and this reflects the people’s same choice seen in the 896 vote margin of the voters who prefer to tax, regulate, monitor, and access medical cannabis facilities. The priorities of the city dictate complete compliance and given this opportunity, the sentiment of the MMJ community should be focused on being the best businesses in Colorado Springs. The City leaders promised a favorable business environment with the stern warning that the industry now has the burden of responsibility to be the best it can be. The work of the CSMCC has come to fruition and the future seems brighter.

The positivity of that day will stay with me for life. The City Planning Commission didn’t even show up and the only two dissenting testimonies were from the archdiocese and the Colorado University system. Considering the political environment of this city, this win is huge and it seems the economy is poised to grow in this industry under favorable conditions. I am excited to see the 2011 year set competitive differentiation and create better cannabis centers in the second largest city in our state. All in all, a great 2010 comes to a positive end for medical cannabis in Colorado.

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City Planners Silence Opposition to MMJ Zoning Regulation

As a follow up to my original post “Colorado Springs City Planners Plan to Zone Centers out of Business“, the meeting on November 18th was packed with an organized coallition of medical cannabis business owners, patients, and advocates.

Among them, was myself in suit and tie ready to open fire on behalf of the MMJ community. This did not happen as the Colorado Springs City Planning Commission decided to deny all public testimony on the proposed zoning ordinance. The Gazette covered this story here, and City Council responded here. Additionally, video coverage and my interview with PNN can be viewed here.

Following this debocale of government shortsight, I wrote to Colorado Springs City Council who will review this proposed ordinance from City Planning on December 14th.

Dear City Council,

I am writing this letter a few hours after the City Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve a recommendation you will review on December 14th. The reason for my correspondence is to give a record of the proposal as it pertains to your decision in December. As witnessed by the audience, citizens, and media this item was hastily approved by the City Planning Commission with little “planning” but much “commission”. Given the immediacy of legislation affecting the medical cannabis community, it’s not surprising that the commission would want to hastily approve zoning on a new industry. What is surprising is the lack of educated judgment they used to do so.

Although the media and public were prevalently present, the commission decided to silence the audience by refusing public testimony on this important issue. With an ordinance that affects 60 businesses and 41% of a City’s fledgling cannabis revenue stream, it is surprising this commission did not reach out to other branches of the city to see how this zoning legislation affects your ability to service the community. As city councilors, this responsibility falls on you to protect the rights of business owners, amendment protected patients, and the will of the people from the limited sight of a volunteer board’s recommendation.

The Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council has worked diligently to educate leaders at all levels of government about this novel industry. When it comes to the city planning commission, the resistance of many of its members to work with the Council in drafting these ordinances is one clear example of their refusal to understand the needs of the people they are zoning out of business. Understandably, they have the responsibility to protect the community and to decide how to use land in Colorado Springs.

What is not understandable is the presumed threat that the City Planners are protecting us against. People are already in favor of medical cannabis centers (1A Vote) and the current 400ft buffer has worked for months. Your own police report there is no crime increase associated with secure, locked down facilities that can only be accessed by qualified patients. These businesses have been allowed to operate and are regulated in Amendment 20 and House Bill 1284.

I have attached a letter I wrote to the City Planners in September before they met to discuss these ordinances the first time.  In this letter, I state the original ordinance law and point out the following questions for commission consideration:

  • What injury has been made since June that will be satisfied in increasing this minimum distance from one building to another by an arbitrary 3 or 4 blocks?
  • What injury of citizenship is rectified by this action or what was damaged in the first place?
  • How is this more effective than the 400ft limit placed a mere two months ago?
  • Where is the evidence that the current 400ft is more problematic for the public and must be changed after a mere two months?
  • If, logically, this is supposed to deter or prevent children and recovering addicts from accessing medical cannabis, then how effective will the ordinance be by moving these secured and locked-down cannabis facilities one or two minutes further away? 

I think the City Council will find these questions to be reasonable and warranted for analysis. Despite delivering this letter prior to the first meeting on zoning, the planning commission refused to entertain these logical ideals and have assumed a secure facility to be a danger to the community. To the extent that they wish to symbolically separate medical cannabis facilities from our society. This is despite the voter’s clear intent to allow, monitor, tax and regulate these businesses.

Please read my previous letter to the commission about this premature recommendation and please allow an industry to naturally take shape and form in the community. If the current zoning law for medical cannabis is inadequate, the City should be able to show why this is so. Separating facilities to force higher financial barriers of vertical business integration during a severe recession is counterproductive to the progression of our local economy. This ordinance alone would force hundreds out of jobs.

Additionally, the threat of lawsuit in this legislative turmoil is greatly increased every time new action is taken against business owners who have an investment to protect. In an industry lacking precedent law, this zoning ordinance could bring financial burden to the citizens of Colorado Springs if the city is sued by one or more of the 60 businesses under direct threat. As with the current County lawsuit, government should not allow, regulate, then close a business. Arbitrarily Zoning businesses away has little legal justification in a system meant to help centers operate under license. Where is the proof in the pudding?

From the beginning, the CSMCC has been proactive in working with the government to do what’s best for patients, industry, and society. We are still more than willing to help in this capacity and we feel the voice we represent is important in the structure of a new market. We support fair regulation and free market enterprise as is the tradition of capitalism and entrepreneurs. We ask that the city council consider the opinion of the industry experts in deciding what’s best for the city, its citizens, and the businesses serving constitutionally protected patients of Colorado.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

 Mark H. Slaugh
Membership Director
Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council
719-339-2606 

Feel free to copy this letter and send this over to City Council with your own edits.

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A Letter to the Organization of Westside Neighbors

A few updates since my last post and some more insight to the shape of Colorado Springs MMJ. The El Paso County ballot measure known as 1A was successfuly defeated, by a total of 896 votes. Talk about a close call to keep centers open in unincorportated El Paso County. Despite the win in the County, the battle continues for Colorado Springs Centers who face zoning regulations aimed at shutting down medical cannabis business. Social stigma weighs heavily on these decisions and some neighborhood organizations have requested a literal distancing of medical marijuana from our community. This is also symbolic and is representative of this City’s reluctance to fully accept medical cannabis despite the decision of voters to allow continued operations. The Organization of Westside Neighbors is one such group attempting to mislead the general public regarding medicinal marijuana. Prior to the vote on 1A, this group released a public opinion survey that was both misinforming and one sided. A copy of the survey is here:

own mmj

My letter to OWN is below:

Dear Organization of Westside neighbors,

Your recent public survey about medical cannabis showed a public bias about the MMJ issue and about the reality surrounding medical cannabis centers. The first question is blatantly side tracking from the independent  thought people should have before deciding important questions like “1A” that affect so much. The second question obviously leads into the third question about bans and you may as well be asking people to vote again on this issue. Again!

Another 4 questions are asking technical zoning questions to the public. These questions are being compared to county regulations that are a point of contentious law suit. El Paso County allowed, then regulated, then put to vote a ban on people’s businesses. They are being sued accordingly. Tax payers have to fork that over, so where is any mention of preventing these detriments?  Has anyone heard of the law of unintended consequences in the event of a ban? Please see what the CSBJ has to say before making these surveys. OWN is failing to meet their first objective: “To inform residents of their rights and of the impact of governmental and commercial actions upon their lives.”

Where does a question of teenage use even come into play?! This is blatant public fear mongering and has no basis of logic. How is it ever the city’s job to tattle tale on crimes that aren’t happening? This question warrants serious consideration. There are less than 20 patients in Colorado under the age of 18. The average age of patients is 40. This industry is the most heavily regulated and any minor using medical cannabis must be recommended by two doctors. All facts that are ignored by the questions you’ve asked the public.

Additionally, all patients must pay a $90 fee and wait for 35 days until they can access a medical cannabis center. Has anyone at OWN read the state regulations or House Bill 1284? Please do before asking the public what they feel should be done. Much of what is being asked is already in place, so the public’s opinion on whether it “should” happen is null and void. It is already happening. In fact, the Colorado Springs has been working for over a year to ordinance and regulate the industry.

OWN is supposed to advocate for the Westside Neighborhood. These neighborhoods have become MMJ friendly zones in your community. Patients have a demand for this medicine, and the market will supply it one way or another. Why would you design a survey meant to turn public opinion against the businesses hiring, paying taxes, and utilizing previously vacant commercial real estate? There is no indication of increased crime because of centers according to the CSPD.

As a representative body for your community, you should be asking citizens questions pertinent to the way things are now. The rights, regulations, and truth about medical cannabis warrant clear distinction from the social stigma placed on the plant. You survey feeds that stigma and defeats its own purpose of being an independent opinion questionnaire.  Not only will your results be skewed, but you’ll have done a great disservice to your community’s safety if 1A passes.

Why hasn’t OWN contacted the CSMCC about this or talked to a medical cannabis business owner before releasing this survey? Unregulated and neighborhood-based distribution for medical cannabis is the wrong model to be adopted. Keep the marijuana in regulated centers and out of residential homes.

For an organization representing the westside, OWN certainly seems to be out of place with its own neighbors who have not filed complaint or experienced any negative impact from medical cannabis centers. With 1A’s defeat, the question stands as to where this organization will choose to focus its efforts on this issue. As an area with a heavy concentration of centers, OWN should be advocating for the small businesses in thier neighborhood.

To let OWN know your opinion on this matter, please visit thier website and email thier representatives in the left side panel of contact information.

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