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Definition of a Nightmare: Trying to Enforce
Colorado’s Conflicting Marijuana Regulatory Laws
 
The Police Foundation and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police released the above report this week to guide law enforcement about marijuana in other states. The report points to the Byzantine layers of regulations that evolved from constitutional amendments voters passed to legalize medical marijuana in 2000 (Amendment 20) and recreational marijuana in 2012 (Amendment 64).

From June 1, 2001 to December 21, 2008, Colorado issued medical marijuana cards to 4,819 patients. Each cardholder could designate a caregiver to grow marijuana for up to five patients. In 2009, a court decision overturned the limit of five patients per caregiver. That year, with virtually no limits on the number of patients caregivers could supply, 41,039 citizens obtained medical marijuana cards, an increase of 762 percent.

The legislature responded by passing bills in 2010 and 2011 to create the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code. Among other things, the Code legalized commercial medical marijuana centers to grow and sell medical marijuana, reinstated the five-patient limit for caregivers, set up a business-licensing regimen, and allowed for marijuana-infused products to be sold to patients. In 2012, citizens passed Amendment 64, legalizing recreational marijuana, and new sets or regulations were created for both home growers and commercial growers, processors, and retail sales outlets. This resulted in four models of regulation.

Caregiver/Patient
Caregivers can grow medical marijuana for up to five patients and themselves.
Patients licensed by the Department of Public Health and Environment
Regulatory authorities: Department of Public Health and Environment & local law enforcement
 
Medical Commercial
Businesses, owners, and employees licensed
Regulatory authority: Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division
 
Recreational Commercial
Businesses, owners, and employees licensed
Regulatory authority: Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division
 
Recreational Home Grows
Anyone age 21 or older can grow up to six plants
Law enforcement seeing “co-op cultivations” where many home growers are growing at one location
No license required
Regulatory authority: local law enforcement

Caregivers must register the location of their cultivation sites, but no punishment is specified for those who do not, and many don’t. Because of privacy laws, patient information cannot be accessed to check for whom caregivers are growing. Caregivers have no cards and no sanctions if they fail to register. Attempting to establish probable cause under conflicting regulatory mechanisms makes it difficult to prosecute those who ignore the regulations.
 
Data kept by the Denver Police Department and the Department of Revenue show the number of marijuana facilities in Denver and statewide:

Medical Centers--Denver 198, Statewide 501
Infused Medical Product Factories--Denver 78, Statewide 158
Medical Cultivations--Denver 376, Statewide 739

Recreational Stores--Denver 126, Statewide 306      
Infused Recreational Factories--Denver 44, Statewide 92
Recreational Cultivations--Denver 190, Statewide 375      
Labs Checking Recreational for THC--Denver 9, Statewide 15 

Total Marijuana Facilities--Denver 1,021, statewide 2,186

The result of trying to enforce conflicting regulatory laws can be seen in another recently released Colorado report. It estimated that demand for marijuana in Colorado in 2014 was 130 metric tons but legal supplies could only account for 77 metric tons. The rest, according to press reports, came from criminals in the black market or legal cultivators selling under the table in the “gray” market.

"Colorado law enforcement officials . . . are convinced that the black and the gray markets are thriving in Colorado primarily through unregulated grows, large quantities of marijuana stashed in homes, and by undercutting the price of legitimate marijuana sales. In fact, police have stated that legalized marijuana may have increased the illegal drug trade."
 
To read the report, click here.
More than 17,500 readers clicked through to read the health report from Colorado featured in last week's The Marijuana Report--and we only have 3,600 subscribers! Many of you shared last week's issue with others and apparently so did they. Please take a bow. And thank you for being such effective networkers. For those who missed it, click here.
 
National Families in Action and partners, Project SAM and the Treatment Research Institute, welcome our new readers. We hope you enjoy this weekly e-newsletter to keep up-to-date with all aspects of the marijuana story. Visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, and subscribe to E-Highlights to learn more.

National Families in Action is a group of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. We advocate for:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy
What is our call to action?
  • Ask your leaders to establish FDA expanded access to Epidiolex® for children with epilepsy.
  • To protect children, adolescents, and young adults, ask your leaders not to legalize marijuana.
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