Some Colorado medical marijuana patients, caregivers and dispensaries who were hoping for drastic industry-friendly changes from House Bill 1043 are likely somewhat disappointed. It was just a proposal, meaning it was vulnerable to necessary negotiations that needed to be made in order for it to go forward.
Initially presented as more of an industry boost, HB 1043 was significantly amended during a six-hour hearing last week. The most significant change keeps a statewide moratorium on new marijuana dispensaries in place for an additional year, instead of ending it this summer as previously promised. It also only allows makers of cannabis-containing products to grow a maximum of 500 plants. Small-scale caregivers will have to begin registering their cultivation spaces if the bill officially passes.
According to sources, while neither large dispensaries nor law enforcement fully embrace HB 1043, they tentatively support it. Owners of small dispensaries reportedly differ in that opinion, as do some medical marijuana activists. They worry that the government is trying to treat medical marijuana laws as a mere means to make money, rather than as a way to help patients in need of the drug.
One of the more relaxed provisions proposed in the changed HB 1043 is that now a person who wants to work in a dispensary doesn't have to have lived in Colorado for at least two years. Only owners have to show proof of a two-year residency in the state.
At this point, anyone who is involved in Colorado's medical marijuana industry should follow existing laws. That means it is crucial to know what those laws are and seek legal advice in order to avoid drug charges. HB 1043 isn't the only proposed medical marijuana legislation before lawmakers, and we will keep you posted on its status, as well as the status of other related bills.
The Denver Post: "Bill revising medical-pot regulations in Colorado advances," John Ingold, 11 Feb. 2011