New Bill May Loosen Up Medical-pot Rules

The controversy over medical-marijuana regulations refuses to end, with new legal twists every week.

Just as many cities such as Woodland Park are firming up plans to snuff out future dispensaries in their towns, new proposed state legislation may make the process easier for future patients and medical-cannabis operators.

More specifically, a new bill, proposed by Representative Tom Massey, a Poncha Springs Republican, would limit the residency requirements for dispensary shops, permit future patients to shop in medical-marijuana outlets immediately after submitting their applications and ease rules for doctors.

But not all the rules would be easier. The legislative package would actually set firmer guidelines for caregivers–individuals who provide patients with medicinal marijuana on a smaller scale–by requiring them to register with the state. Plus, the locations of commercial growing operations would be made public. Also, limits would be placed on how many plants a marijuana-products maker can grow.
The legislation is being supported by representatives of the medical-cannabis industry. They say their main objective is to further clarify certain regulations that were left unclear with the original law.

Massey said the legislation was crafted after consulting with industry representatives, law enforcement officials and state regulators.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to make this a more workable system,” said Massey, according to a report in the Denver Post.

The biggest reported change deals with the residency requirements for dispensary shops. Under legislation passed last spring, all dispensary employees and owners must be Colorado residents for two years. With the new plan, this restriction would just apply to dispensary owners.

Also, the rules would be easier for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients, according to certain license restrictions.
However, neither Colorado Attorney General John Suthers nor District Attorney Dan May, big critics of the industry, have taken a stand on the legislation.

And in the next few months, the state is expected to finalize its rules pertaining to the details of dispensary operations.
The bill will face its first major test on Feb. 3.

It’s still unclear how this legislation will impact forthcoming medical-marijuana laws mulled by the city of Woodland Park and Teller County.

Woodland plans to issue a ban against medical-marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. These forthcoming rules would also address the issue of caregivers and medicinal-marijuana patients and how many plants they are permitted to grow at certain private residences. Officials in Woodland don’t want to inspect the homes of patients and caregivers, unless they receive complaints, according to preliminary discussions regarding the city’s proposed ban.

Teller County, meanwhile, will soon craft land-use rules pertaining to where medical-cannabis shops could be located in the unincorporated sections of Teller. The commissioners hope to finalize medical-marijuana regulations by early summer.