Medical marijuana: Brian Vicente on Wyoming ruling against MMJ patient, crime stats story

Categories: Marijuana

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Brian Vicente.
Medical marijuana has been enshrined in the Colorado constitution since 2000, with a new MMJ regulatory law signed into law this past June and more medical marijuana legislation in the pipeline. But that's not the case in other states, as the Wyoming Supreme Court recently reminded a Boulder patient. Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente weighs in on this situation, as well as on the question of whether dispensaries make their neighborhoods riskier.

The Wyoming Supreme Court ruling pertained to Boulder's Daniel Burns, who was busted in March 2009 for possession of more than one pound of weed. Burns's attorneys argued that he shouldn't have been punished for this act, since he had a doctor's recommendation. But Justice Michael Golden, writing for the court majority, rejected this assertion due to the state's role in approving medical marijuana use for individuals. "Importantly, it is not the action of the physician that determines any potential possession of marijuana by the patient," the court's opinion states. "Clearly, therefore, the physician is not prescribing or ordering the possession of marijuana."

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Vicente's reaction?

"I'm disappointed that the Wyoming Supreme Court did not do the compassionate thing and respect that this man was using marijuana legally under Colorado law," he says. "But at the same time, Colorado's licensed patients really need to know that their rights do not necessarily extend across our state's borders."

Indeed, medical marijuana rules in the U.S. are hardly universal. As Vicente notes, several states, including Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island and Arizona, "allow a degree of reciprocity for Colorado card holders, but each of these laws is different. In Arizona, for instance, a patient would not be criminally prosecuted, but he couldn't buy from a state-licensed dispensary, because that's the way the law is written. And further muddying the waters is the TSA in Denver allowing patients to fly to other medical marijuana states with their medication -- but is it really legal for them to cross borders or not? And what if they're traveling over a non-medical-marijuana state?"

This "emerging area of law," as Vicente describes it, seems sure to confound patients and attorneys alike for years to come. "Until the federal government changes its stance on medical marijuana, we're going to have a patchwork quilt of different states treating patients in different manners," he concedes. "In the meantime, the onus is on the patients to educate themselves as much as possible about our state law and where it may or may not have powers."

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In the meantime, Vicente admits to being befuddled by "Medical-Marijuana Dispensaries' Effect on Crime Unclear," the page-one story in today's Denver Post. The piece notes that the crime-rate drop in areas that include dispensaries was marginally less than the decline in other neighborhoods. But while some observers, including Ernie Martinez, president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association and a longtime opponent of MMJ rules as currently written, see this as proof that dispensaries make their neighborhoods less safe, others quizzed by the Post, ranging from marijuana advocates to cops, are far less certain.

Count Vicente among the latter group. "When I saw that it was the above-the-fold story, I was surprised, because it seemed like a non-story to me," he says. "There was no data to back up anything. Ernie Martinez is not one to actually cite numbers -- and he's someone who tries to incite the public sentiment to be negative about medical marijuana issues.

"I really think we need to study this closer," he continues. "And we need a fair-and-balanced story that actually looks at all the good things that dispensaries bring to communities, including jobs, increased tax revenue and, of course, medicine for sick people."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Tom Massey says HB 1043, new MMJ bill, should help law enforcement."

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Don
Don

He is just as stupid as the Colorado law. If Colorado says prostitution is fine does that mean other states have to follow. Goes right along with bridge jumping. Just cause you go dont expect me too. Idiot. Besides, A POUND? Thats distribution quantity. Find something else cause the weed is clouding your brain. Say Hi to Bubba form the rest of uys.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

That's a point of view we don't hear much in these parts. Thanks for sharing it, Don.

Robert
Robert

There was no basis in Wyoming law, but you should not blame Mr. Burns (or rather, his attorney) for trying. No one should go to jail or prison (or be raped) because they have cannabis -- your animus against Burns is misdirected. Blame the swine whose jobs depend on Prohibition instead. To propose that our taxes should be spent to arrest, prosecute, or incarcerate someone who has a pound of cannabis is insane (or, at best, for the swine, self-serving at the expense of society as a whole).

OnJumpingOffBridges
OnJumpingOffBridges

Yeah Don, providing people with cannabis ** one of the oldest and safest medicines known to man ** to people with medical conditions is akin to suicide (jumping off a bridge)...you throwback-propagandists will say anything to try to scare people from the truth.

* * According to the American Public Health Association:

"Marijuana has an extremely wide acute margin of safety for use under medical supervision and CANNOT CAUSE LETHAL REACTIONS [caps added] … Greater harm is caused by the legal consequences of its prohibition than possible risks of medicinal use."

""The American Public Health Association encourages research of the therapeutic properties of various cannabinoids and combinations of cannabinoids, and ... urges the Administration and Congress to move expeditiously to make cannabis available as a legal medicine."

-- Reference: Resolution #9513: "Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis:" adopted November 1995

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world. They stood up for patient access to medical cannabis more than fifteen years ago.

Robert
Robert

I agree with Brian, but Ingold's article should not even be mentioned. That hack and the Denver Post have no concept of balance or journalistic integrity -- the article is just one more shameful exhibition of the Post's bias against cannabis.

IT IS LONG PAST TIME FOR PATIENTS TO BOYCOTT DISPENSARIES ADVERTISING IN THE DENVER POST!!!

Rocky Mountain High, Cannabis Station, Sweetleaf Compassion Center: PULL YOUR ADS NOW! You don't have the sense not to give money to your own political enemies; maybe patients can get through to you. A man with a bullhorn may be coming to your dispensary soon.

stan the man
stan the man

Most dispensaries are overpriced, anyways. It might be the Flodica talking, but I foresee a glut of outdoor operations popping up this summer.

In response to the article, Burns is clearly a moron. Even if you are from B-town, and you think that the sun rises and sets in your entitled-ass drum circle, the laws clearly state the quantities that you can have at any given time. If Burns DID intend on smoking the whole pound himself, it would be so dry and shakey by the end of the bag that he would deserve the stale, acrid tokes that sprung forth from his bong hole. Finally, what the f was he doing in Wyoming? Wyoming hates hippies as strongly as Colorado Springs. He must've been REALLY baked, so he shouldn't have been driving in the first place.

Clarity
Clarity

A patient can have as much medicine as "medically necessary"; so the original amendment does not limit patients to 6 plants, though many people perpetuate this myth.

Here's the excerpt from Colorado Constitution, Article XVIII, Section 14 (Amend. 20)

(4) (b) For quantities of marijuana in excess of these amounts, a patient or his or her primary care-giver may raise as an affirmative defense to charges of violation of state law that such greater amounts were medically necessary to address the patient's debilitating medical condition.

Starter
Starter

Right but I think where they got chris ,he was selling the medicine under A-20 he isn't able to do so is the man guilty of any crimes besides making a good living nope none and no fed corrupted laws,judges can tell me different .

Robert
Robert

Some attorney(s) have claimed that patients having more than the six plants (three flowering) are not covered by the exception from the state's criminal law, but are only afforded an affirmative defense. The exception is for all "medical use" however, and although Article XVIII, Section 14(4)(b) states that patients may raise the affirmative defense to charges arising from having more than the six plants, Article XVIII, Section 14(2) (which establishes the affirmative defense) contemplates patients being charged for medical use without reference to whether they had six or fewer plants -- it seems more reasonable to me to interpret the language of Article XVIII, Section 14 as setting such a limit only for the purpose of indicating that patients having six or fewer patients should not be charged. Article XVIII, Section 14(2)(a)(3) does not state that the "amounts of marijuana only as permitted under this section" refers to the six plants rather than the "greater amounts" "medically necessary to address the patient's debilitating medical condition". Evidence that such amounts (unless prodigious) exceed patients' needs being difficult to obtain, police should not charge patients solely on the grounds that they had more than six plants.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

The crime part used to be when it was illegal to grow and obtain. Now, if you can grow your own crop in 4 months of awesome harvest, why would you jack someone for weed and risk the rest of your life in prison? It would make no sense, as those who used to steal their herb now grow it, the crime has been taken out of herb finally. Jah Bless the High Country when it's 420 in Colorado!

Robert
Robert

In reference to taking medicinal cannabis out of Colorado, you should link back to your piece about the driver illegally searched by highwaymen in Iowa (http://blogs.westword.com/late.... That was not an isolated incident; cops in the fascist states surrounding us are routinely making illegal stops and searches of cars bearing Colorado plates in hopes of stealing motorists' cannabis. The language of the Wyoming statute clearly does not protect patients -- putatively independent voters in that state should educate themselves, reject the Prohibitionists' lies, and re-legalize cannabis.

Starter
Starter

They are stopping anyone with a Colorado plate I have a friend who get's stopped always for no reason

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