Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation folds: Betty Aldworth unable to restore its rep

Thumbnail image for betty aldworth photo cropped.JPG
Betty Aldworth.
Late 2009 saw the birth of Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation, which set out to lobby the legislature regarding MMJ bills. But shortly after the May passage of HB 1284, the main regulatory measure, CMMR imploded, with various parties accusing each other of financial improprieties and more. Betty Aldworth tried to revive CMMR a few months later, but it was not to be. It shut down last week -- and here's why.

"After the passage of 1284 and 109" -- the latter a bill that set out to clarify the relationship between medical marijuana doctors and patients -- "there was clearly more work to do on the rules-work group and at the legislature," Aldworth says. "After any piece of legislation passes, it has to be fine-tuned to make sure patients and businesses are protected. And given the opportunity by virtue of my consulting business to start an organization or reinvigorate CMMR, I decided to try to reinvigorate CMMR."

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Brett Barney and Josh Stanley.
From the beginning, Aldworth knew this would be a difficult task. With allegations going back and forth between CMMR executive director Matt Brown and Apothecary of Colorado co-owner Wanda James on one side and Peace in Medicine owner Josh Stanley and attorney Brett Barney on the other, contributors began to wonder if their money was being well spent.

Meanwhile, some marijuana advocates felt that CMMR was more interested in assisting high-rolling donors at the expense of patients and smaller mom-and-pop dispensaries. Aldworth believes this was a bad rap -- but she acknowledges that critics spread such allegations far and wide.

With these challenges in mind, Aldworth gave herself six months beginning on August 1 to make CMMR a viable player again. But too much damage had been done.

In August, "based on what I knew about my own personal finances and what I was able to do, I thought CMMR had something worth saving," she notes. "But ultimately, I spent more time fighting misconceptions than I did fighting for patient rights.

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Matt Brown.
"The first step in rebuilding CMMR was to build a group of supporters who could give me input and support for what came next -- a solid plan to expand well beyond lobbying to collaboration with other organizations and the like."

In addition, she chose not to take a salary for that first six months, and paid some bills out of her own pocket, in an attempt to restore trust. "But people weren't willing to touch it. The turmoil in the organization and misconceptions that were built around that created a reputation for CMMR that was negative beyond repair." Despite making "an effort at transparency that was significant, and which went beyond what a lot of other organizations do to make sure there wasn't an appearance of impropriety, I realized after six months that it still hadn't worked.

"Sometimes people come in to play cleanup -- and I was one of those people. I had to decide whether or not the organization was worth saving or whether it should be shut down. That was my job, and in that, I feel I have succeeded. I did everything I could to save it, but in the end, it couldn't be saved."

What's next for Aldworth? She's started a business called Evolution Consulting, which will draw on her experience in the MMJ world. (Her new website is in place, but it's still in the construction phase.) In her words, "I'm offering a variety of services related to strengthening both advocacy organizations and also smaller advocacy groups as well as businesses in terms of developing policy and positive culture in wellness centers."

She may also pursue lobbying in the MMJ field, with an eye toward developing action plans and the like -- but even if she ultimately decides to move in another direction, she's certain she'll be keeping a close eye on legislation pertaining to the industry . "It's fascinating," she says. "It's important for patients in Denver, and since I'm a policy geek, I'm going to follow it."

In the meantime, Aldworth is confident that people in the industry will be able to draw distinctions between the first incarnation of CMMR -- the one that came apart in such vivid fashion -- from the way she ran the organization. In her words, "I hope any future employer or client will be able to see the difference."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana advocate praises Denver City Council regulations -- sort of."


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16 comments
Miguel V
Miguel V

Having multiple chances to sit and talk with Betty, I have come to know her as an avid supporter of the cannabis community and an ardent supporter of patients. Her efforts to keep doctors, caregivers, MMC's, and advocacy groups updated on what is occurring in the community is highly appreciated but rarely touted. When patients receive an update from their preferred advocacy group about political "going-ons", Ms. Aldworth is often providing this information in an effort to educate as many folks as possible.

Like many others, I was perplexed as to why she was attempting to revive a tarnished organization in CMMR. After reading her comments, I now understand where she was coming from, and I commend her for trying. We know you tried, Betty.

(Also, her kitties are fluffy, too.)

Guest
Guest

dispensaries/mmcs, edibles manufacturers, caregivers, laboratories/testing facilities, doctors, lawyers, self-serving mmj advocacy groups (commmr and the likes), lobbiests, notaries, colorado dept of revenue, cdphe, local govs, the state of colorado ... patients are getting used and abused. this is beyond ridiculous.

i see medicine, you see dollar signs. $$$

SteveO
SteveO

Of course, the big question is still: what did Wanda James and Matt Brown do with the missing $50,000????

TooSmart4TheirOwnGood
TooSmart4TheirOwnGood

CMMR is being followed by a group called MMIG, Medical Marijuana Industry Group, or MMIG, headed by Norton Albarez and RiverRock Wellness. This group claims to "serve" over 37,000 patients, yet consists of only 25-30 MMC's.

MMJ has been sold to big business. Out of state funded organizations headed by crooked lawyers have hijacked the process of rulemaking and created a system where only the very largest MMC's will be able to survive.

Sorry, patients, hope you enjoy getting crappy mildewy, mite eaten, moldy pot from the 5 MMC's that will be left standing 12 months from now.

If anyone has seen what happened in Oakland, be prepared for Denver to be next. 4 centers controlling the entire market.

What happen to the free market and capitalism? These companies couldn't compete against the quality provided by small providers so they simply got them regulated out of existence. Hasn't anyone read Atlas Shrugged?

???
???

"She may also pursue lobbying in the MMJ field, with an eye toward developing action plans and the like"

So she's not leaving and continuing to do what she did with CMMR, stomp on Colorado's Constitution via lobbyists, except she'll be the lobbyist? CMMR is gone and Betty is not? Please, Betty, get out.

Rockymtncannabisadvocate
Rockymtncannabisadvocate

Want to be an effective MMJ advocate? There is going to be a state-wide MMJ advocate training weekend on Feb 19-20, 10am-5pm, both days, in Colorado Springs, Denver, Federal Heights, Fort Collins, Salida, Telluride, and hopefully Grand Junction. http://www.safeaccessnow.org/a...

Topics covered.Understanding 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 Conferences.

If you can not afford this class, please send me an email to rockymtncannabisadvocate at yahoo and I will help you attend.

good riddance COMMR
good riddance COMMR

Shame on Matt Brown, Wanda James, Josh Stanley, Brian Vicente, Sensible CO, all out of state funded lobbyists and fake 'advocacy' groups, Brett Barney, and the politicians who are stomping on our constitutional rights, and the attorneys who have done nothing to protect Colorado patients. You have all screwed all of us. Follow Betty's lead--and GET OUT OF OUR LIVES!

Only then will the patients be able to breath a bit better.

Patient
Patient

Bye, Bye, Betty. Good luck in your next endeavor, and thank you for quitting. Your group has done enough damage to patients and caregivers.

Won't Get Fooled Again
Won't Get Fooled Again

Good riddance to CMMR! They gave us 1284, which decimated patient rights. Betty had the nerve to align herself with this anit-patient group and then say she was FOR patient rights. It didn't take long for people to see through that sham. Anyone that supported 1284 DOES NOT support patients. Good luck in your future green-washing endeavors!

The Releaf Center
The Releaf Center

Thanks to all of your hard work, Betty. Good luck in your future endeavors.

JamesMacAnmanaig
JamesMacAnmanaig

Betty, It shows heart and passion to forgo 6 months of getting paid. Thanks for following your heart string.

TooSmart4TheirOwnGood
TooSmart4TheirOwnGood

Pretty sure it has been agreed that Matt Brown bought a new car and got caught up on his house payments.

Guest
Guest

those profiting from medical marijuana need rec use of marijuana legalized more than patients do. divided and the mmj bottom feeders fall...mmj patients and the right to medical marijuana in colorado is not going away even if the businesses created by it do

Won't Get Fooled Again
Won't Get Fooled Again

United we stand?!?! Do you mean "united we stand against the patients?" Thanks, but no thanks, united we need to stand to help the patients obtain affordable, quality medicine in private. Betty Aldworth and COMMR did nothing to further those goals, so how could you possibly suggest we stand united with here?

Keep Fooling Yourself, Dummy
Keep Fooling Yourself, Dummy

You even read the article?! Sounds like you got something personal against Betty b/c she had nada to do with all the shit you keep pissing and moaning about.

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