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Medical marijuana: Tom Massey says HB 1043, new MMJ bill, should help law enforcement

tom massey being interviewed cropped.JPG
Tom Massey.
HB 1043, a new medical marijuana bill, combines legislative cleanup efforts by Senator Pat Steadman and Representative Tom Massey, co-sponsor of the MMJ measure that became law in June. Steadman admits that he doesn't agree with everything in the bill at this point, and neither does Massey, whose proposals include efforts to help law enforcement.

Like Steadman, Massey sees the new bill as a refinement of the aforementioned measure, SB 1284. "It's based on some things we needed to do through the Department of Revenue, things about enforcement and things on the other side of the equation. And rather than having a bunch of disparate bills, where we might lose control of the process, we felt we should deal with everything in one omnibus -- do everything in one fell swoop, which I think we've done pretty comprehensively."

senator pat steadman.jpg
Senator Pat Steadman.
Not that he's displeased with SB 1284, which he believes has "made everybody a little bit happy but not everybody completely happy, which means we're doing something right." In his view, "Advocates and providers now feel they have a clear set of regulations they can live under and stay under compliance and have some state protection from federal mandates, and law enforcement has a template and a structure they can follow."

At the same time, Massey continues, "I felt like we somewhat abandoned law enforcement" in the final version of the legislation. "They wanted to go to one extreme last year, and we kind of got away from that -- so I wanted to address some of their concerns."

An example: the ability to access registration information.

"We're trying to protect the confidentiality that is provided under the constitution to a caregiver in regard to patients," he stresses. "Patient information is absolutely protected. But for law enforcement, if they pull someone over with a trunk full of marijuana and the guy or gal claims to be a caregiver, law enforcement doesn't have a way to verify or corroborate that. So under this, we're creating somewhat of a registration environment, where law enforcement -- and law enforcement only -- can access a database. So if they pull over John Doe, and John Doe claims to be a caregiver, they can look it up and see, 'You are a caregiver, so you have a legal right to have this in your possession.'"

Such efforts are likely to send up red flags for advocates like the folks at the Cannabis Therapy Institute. This week, CTI submitted an emergency petition to the board of health due in part to concerns about access to patient information; the board rejected the petition, although the topics raised in it will be discussed at a future meeting.

Other Massey proposals? He wants to "create a venue where we can have testing facilities and labs and also encourage that those be utilized for research and development and product testing. Since we can't get data from the federal government on this, we need to be proactive in this state -- and Colorado is on the cutting edge of this industry. And how do we know what's an appropriate dose for individual patients? We're more or less doing this by trial and error, and we could use some real research. We could be pioneers in Colorado, and if this is really here to stay, we need to address the research and development piece."

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In addition, Massey notes, "we want to have a clear and verifiable audit trail for the sale of medical marijuana -- and we found that a number of these centers were having trouble creating banking relationships. We need to address that with the state banking commissioner and tweak some federal banking regulations. It may be somewhat one-sided -- more of a depository than a traditional banking relationship, where you might lend money based on inventory. I don't see them wanting to collateralize a product that's still federally illegal. But we need a depository relationship that would make reporting a little easier."

Massey also feels "some of our staffing requirements for centers were, I think, a little onerous" -- and he hopes some adjustments can be made in this respect. But he's against removing the provision that allows communities or municipalities to ban dispensaries either through action by local representatives or a vote of the people.

"The argument against this originally was that if we precluded centers, we would probably be limiting access to something from a constitutional standpoint," he says. "But after the proliferation of ballot measures this last year, centers are still geographically diversified across the state, and there's still the ability of a caregiver network to provide medication. Caregivers can even get waivers if patients can't find someone in their immediate area to exceed the five-patient limit. So I don't feel we've limited access in any way, shape or form. I feel like we've gotten past that."

Still, he admits that 1043 can't possibly deal with every aspect of the industry.

"This is such a new field of endeavor for all of us," he says. "We're actually starting up and regulating an industry that's gone beyond our wildest dreams. When we passed the original amendment in 2000, we had no idea we'd be up to 120,000 registered patients, which is where we're at and counting. I really feel the regulatory framework we put in place was necessary, and we'll continue to tweak it as time goes on."

Page down to read the current draft of HB 1043.


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18 comments
ScrewMMJ
ScrewMMJ

Thank GOD for Rep Massey getting things under control. Those crazy MMJ businesses, trying to create jobs, utilize otherwise useless real estate and generally become productive tax paying business owners.

I for one would prefer that MMJ be completely eliminated, that way people can go back to getting their drugs the old fashioned way, from gangs and pushers. As everyone knows MMJ was a farce to move the legalization movement forward, screw that, BACK UNDERGROUND YOU GO! You didn't want to pay taxes or support your local economy anyway, did you?

I also support a repeal of the decriminalization of marijuana, lets give those prison contractors as many patients, oops, I mean prisoners as they can handle. Line their pockets at the expense of an individuals future and freedom.

TooSmart4TheirOwnGood
TooSmart4TheirOwnGood

So I have done a little research into Rep Massey and his history. An interesting fact, Massey comes from a district which has already banned MMJ, why is he the main proponent of rule writing? It doesn't effect his district?

Well the answers comes from a review of the Elect Tom Massey campaign finance disclosures. Rep Massey and Senator Romer and Senator Steadman have all been major beneficiaries of a select group of dispensary owners.

Massey, Romer, and Steadman have each received at least $1,000 in campaign finance donations directly from the owners of 4 of Colorado's largest dispensaries.

Joshua Stanley-Budding Health/Peace In MedicineNorton Albarez- River Rock WellnessJill Lamoreux- Boulder County CaregiversStacy Vilos-Fauth- Granny's Edibles/Infused Product Manufacturer/b*goods apothecaryJoseph Cohen- THE CLINIC

I find it ironic that these Albarez and Lamoreux are also both on the department of revenue's working advisory panel. Could it be that these new onerous regulations that threaten to kill 80% of Colorado's small dispensaries and outlaw caregivers, were designed by the largest in the industry to do just that?

Could it be that a coalition of 4 or 5 dispensary owners in Colorado decided that they could just buy the whole MMJ industry by influencing a few easy to purchase politicians?

Why also is it that Boulder County Caregivers and RiverRock are two of the largest wholesalers in Colorado, with a sales force pounding the streets to supply MMJ to the very dispensaries that they have nearly regulated out of existence? What will the face of Colorado MMJ look like when these owners are done buying their monopoly?

anon
anon

"Caregivers can even get waivers if patients can't find someone in their immediate area to exceed the five-patient limit. So I don't feel we've limited access in any way, shape or form."

so a limit is not a limit, and we've gotten past all that, huh mr. massey?

Rockymtncannabisadvocate
Rockymtncannabisadvocate

Cannabis Advocate skill Building Bootcamp coming up the entire weekend of Feb 19-20th, 2011.

Keep an eye out for more information. The bootcamp will be held in multi places in Denver, and Boulder, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Fort Collins, and hopefully Salida.

Robert
Robert

"we felt we should ... do everything in one fell [of terrible evil or ferocity; deadly] swoop" -- sometimes, legislators accidentally tell the truth (though the General Assembly's assault on the Constitution would be more accurately described as consisting of many fell passes).

anonymous
anonymous

What's to keep local law enforcement from fishing the database with details from their own illegal internal databases of patients and caregivers?

Jay
Jay

What the hell is this bullshit?

“some state protection from federal mandates”-exactly what protection do patients and caregivers like bartkowitz have or will receive from 'federal mandates'?

“create a venue where we can have testing facilities and labs and also encourage that those be utilized for research and development and product testing”-There are already existing labs and facilities. Full Spectrum for example. Why is there a need for taxpayers to pay for a state run place?

“And how do we know what's an appropriate dose for individual patients?”-What right do you, law enforcement, especially politicians or anyone else have to determine how much medicine a patient needs?

“tweak some federal banking regulations.”-Again, who is going to do this at the state level? It's amazing that people actually believe anything that politicians say these days.

“we need a depository relationship that would make reporting a little easier."-I see, more oversight. For the children, right?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

ScrewMMJ, thanks for the very pointed post. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats, and thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Guest
Guest

If thats true then why did the legislators they purchased allow the creation of rules that prevent them from wholesaling?

Rockymtncannabisadvocate
Rockymtncannabisadvocate

SEMINAR TOPICSUnderstanding the Tools in Your Toolbox: Strategies and Tactics for Effective AdvocacyCitizen Lobbying 101Becoming a Medical Marijuana SpokespersonHow to Testify to Your City CouncilHow to Testify to Your State LegislatureKnow Your Rights: Dealing with the LawUtilizing ASA's ResourcesMedia Training 101: Different Types of MediaMedia Training 201: CampaignsHow to Organize Events, Rallies and Press ConferencesLeadership in the Medical Cannabis Community: Words from Elected RepresentativesThis list is only partial, and not complete.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Good question, anonymous. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

It couldn't have said it better! Thanks. Jay.

I especially like the 'depository' relationship at the bank--can you only make deposits into the state coffers and only those deposits are legal? or are all withdrawals illegal?

What bank does the state of Colorado use?

How is it that the banks won't accept the dispensary deposits (as they call it money laundering) and yet the state of Colorado was permitted to deposit (money launder) 10 milllion in MMC application fee's into their bank? Clearly the 10 million coming from dispensary owners was federally illegal drug money? Whats up with that? Where are the charges on the state for money laundering?

Sprout
Sprout

These seem like pretty logical refinements to SB1284. All of this is need for CO to maintain its progressive approach to regulating cannabis sales. This isn't evil or onerous, but a step in the right direction. It's foolish to think the State doesn't want oversight and industry players gain protections by working with the State's regulatory model. In regards to depository relationships - it's imperative to have transparent financial record keeping both for the legitimacy of the industry and to help protect ownership in this business.

Guest
Guest

The 70/30 restriction doesn't matter to the big dogs. They're not responsible for verifying compliance on the buyers behalf and face no penalties for "oversupplying" a dispensary.

Starter
Starter

Listen what it says HB-1043 could help law enforcement what part do you hear them saying this can help patients which suppose to be the first goal not the last like these morons have it backwards.

Guest
Guest

How does that affect them? They grow more than 30 little guys combined, have enough trim to justify whatever they wholesale and the sales force that TooSmart mentioned only speaks to that fact. If you notice, 1284 caters exactly to these "factory" style operations. It requires you to be in the middle of nowhere with top of the line surveillance equipment and has insane bookkeeping requirements. If you're legally producing 200 lbs of marijuana a month, 30% of that will do just fine.

It's not unusual for industries to contribute heavily to candidates that may shape legislation in their favor; that's why we have lobbyists. Committee appointments and initial regulations deserve more scrutiny, so I believe the initial post makes some salient points.

Citizen80919
Citizen80919

Not sure about that... maybe you are missing the piece of HB10-1284 that only allows a dispensary to wholesale 30% of their total inventory.

It would be awesome just to grow like crazy then wholesale it all, but that can't happen in today's regulatory environment. Retail 70% Wholesale 30%... it's the law.

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