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Is medical marijuana legal or not?
“The days of the Wild West are over,” Senator Chris Romer said at a public hearing at the Capitol building last week, referring to what some see as a near-lawless but booming medical marijuana industry. While his comments may have been premature, under his lead the Colorado Senate has indeed approved stricter regulations on the medical marijuana industry.
In a 34-1 vote, the Senate voted to pass restrictions on the doctor/patient relationship as it applies to medical marijuana. Republican Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield was the only dissenting vote, purportedly because Colorado’s Amendment 20, which allows for medicinal marijuana use, is part of our constitution and therefore should be upheld as written.
The new bill requires that doctors can no longer meet briefly with a patient and endorse their need for medical marijuana. Instead, doctors must review a patient’s medical records, give him or her a full exam, and even provide follow-up treatment. Additionally, doctors cannot meet with patients within dispensaries, nor can they accept monetary incentives from the dispensaries. Patients between the ages of 18-21 need two doctors to attest to their need for medicinal marijuana.
Prominent medical marijuana activist attorney Robert Corry testified against the bill, noting that it made it more difficult for sick patients to get the care they needed. Corry also points out that medicinal marijuana helps people with debilitating diseases overcome additions to “dangerous narcotic pain medications” which they would be dependent on if medicinal marijuana was not available to them.
Senator Romer has also cited correspondence from patients who traded pain medications for marijuana, but who also wanted stricter regulations on the medical marijuana industry so that their own treatment would not be threatened.
Originally, Senator Romer and others had pushed for an all-encompassing medical marijuana law reform, with dispensaries/caregivers facing regulation as well. That bill faced extreme opposition, so the bill was split into two parts: the doctor/patient relationship bill passed today by the Senate, and a bill regarding dispensaries and caregivers which will make its way through the House.