An infringement of constitutional rights; stricter legal controls that criminals will break anyway; a registry that could make specific citizens vulnerable to a hostile government — these sound like the stock phrases used to ague for expanded gun rights, but on Thursday at the Colorado state legislature, they were arguments marshaled in support of expanding the right to use weed.
Designating a “caregiver” to grow your medical marijuana tax-free has been a Colorado constitutional right since Amendment 20 passed in 2000. The fight around how to regulate that process so that growers don’t double up on patients, exceed their allowed plant counts, or ship “extra” product out of state has been going on pretty much since then. That debate has heated up since Coloradans legalized recreational cannabis, largely because the recreational side of the industry feels that caregivers are getting a free ride when it comes to regulation and taxation.
After many stalled attempts to increase regulation, Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, has proposed SB 14, which made it out of the Senate health committee on Thursday. The measure is aimed at creating a caregiver registry that would allow law enforcement to instantly cross check caregiver status and maximum plant count. The measure also draws a “bright line” at 99 plants, requiring caregivers to have a special license for anything more.
Although the state doesn’t have the constitutional authority to require caregivers to register their address and plant counts, Aguilar said they’ve got an incentive to do so.
“If the police were to come and knock on your door you could show them you’re registered, they could verify that, and you wouldn’t get ticketed and dragged into court,” said Aguilar.
But many caregivers fear a comprehensive registry could be released if the political winds of the state and nation were to change. They also say that the protections courts have read into A20 — that police have to pay you back if they seize your allowed plants and let them die, for example — are enough protection.
What caregivers want is access to the same, or similar, state-funded laboratories where recreational marijuana growers test their buds. Aguilar said the state doesn’t have capacity to meet even the recreational testing requirements right now, but she added that a bill to create separate labs for medical marijuana will be hitting the legislature this session.
That time we changed our minds about ‘Palcohol’
Friday, after traveling all the way through the House and onto the Senate floor, lawmakers agreed that, having come to understand the actual nature of powdered alcohol, Coloradans must not ban, but embrace it.
House Bill 1031, which started as a ban on powdered alcohol, has ended as a proposed regulatory framework and a reason for lawmakers, left and right, to congratulate themselves on another great Colorado substance regulation experiment. Huzzah!
Colorado blazes another new trail! Instead of ban powered alcohol we may be 1st state to figure out how to regulate and tax it. HB1031#coleg
— Pat Steadman (@PatSteadman) February 27, 2015
Lawmakers had so much fun with “palcohol,” they decided to delay the potentially harry debate about funding for immigrant driver’s licenses until Monday.
— Tessa Cheek (@tessacheek) February 27, 2015
There are some really great shots of rural Colorado in the basement rotunda suddenly but no visible indication of who took them. Very mysterious….
Image: “Plantacja” by A7nubis via WikCommons.