Medical marijuana: Is health board ready to pass THC driving reg like one that died in legislature?
At 9 a.m., the Board of Health is scheduled to consider a series of new rules pertaining to medical marijuana patients and caregivers -- and the Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho has objections to a lot of them. She's particularly incensed by potential changes in the definition of caregiver and what she sees as a stealth attempt on the part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to create a THC driving limit of the sort rejected by the state legislature.
Although few MMJ advocates are big fans of the health board, critics have been especially distressed by some of its actions this year. In February, for instance, the CDPHE's medical marijuana advisory committee recommended what member and Boulder County Caregivers owner Jill Lamoureux regarded as positive changes for caregivers -- adding education and consultation on medical-marijuana use to the current definition and broadening the waiver process, among other tweaks. But the CDPHE rejected the new caregiver definition at the advice of the Colorado Attorney General's office, and the comment period on a new version including the phrase "THE ACT OF SUPPLYING MEDICAL MARIJUANA OR MARIJUANA PARAPHERNALIA, BY ITSELF, IS INSUFFICIENT TO CONSTITUTE 'SIGNIFICANT RESPONSIBILITY FOR MANAGING THE WELL-BEING OF A PATIENT'" ended on 4/20.
But while this may be the headline item, Kriho believes plenty of other issues should also raise alarm. For instance, she says, "the CDPHE thinks it can create a new crime under Colorado law -- a medical marijuana DUI, which doesn't have any penalties laid out anywhere in the Colorado revised statute. Their authority to do this is totally unclear, but it looks suspiciously like a backdoor attempt to criminalize driving under the influence of medical marijuana."
As Kriho points out, a bill to do just that, by establishing a 5 nanogram per milliliter of blood intoxication standard, died in the last legislative session. One factor: a test showing that Westword medical marijuana reviewer William Breathes was nearly triple the proposed limit when sober.
In addition, Kriho is concerned about language stating that patients and caregivers shall not undertake any task while under the influence of medical marijuana that would constitute negligence. She sees the language as exceedingly vague and well beyond the scope of what the CDPHE is charged to do in this area.
"They were given a very specific mandate in the constitution -- to create a confidential registry of patients, period," she allows. "They weren't given the authority to do any of this other stuff by the constitution or the general assembly."
Nonetheless, the board is moving forward with loads of regulations, including a mandate stating that patients can only change caregivers once per month -- another bizarre dictate, in Kriho's mind. She lays out her objections to this and other rules in a sample e-mail on view below.
And if the board ignores advocates planning to be at this morning's meeting and okays the new regs? Kriho says they'll go into effect on July 1 after being blessed by the attorney general, John Suthers -- who she's certain has already signed off on them. After that, only legal action can stop them.
"CannabisLawsuits.com, baby," she says, referring to fellow advocate Kathleen Chippi's effort to challenge the state's medical marijuana law in court. "These things have really been shoved down people's throats will very little notice or rational basis to do it. We need to slow them down with a lawsuit and have a court decide the constitutionality of them."
Page down to read the aforementioned sample e-mail, which Kriho encourages folks to send to firstname.lastname@example.org.