Marijuana: Health Department Cannabis Meeting Today Officially Excludes the Public
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is holding a workshop today to discuss the CDPHE's role in recreational and medical cannabis. In an announcement about the semi-private event, which invitees can attend in person or via an online webinar feed, Elyse Contreras, program coordinator for the retail marijuana and medical marijuana grant programs at the CDPHE, notes that the meeting is intended to "update our local partners on latest information regarding marijuana surveillance, prevention efforts, medical research, lab regulations, infused product safety and more."
Though no rulemaking is on the agenda, several patient groups are upset that the meeting wasn't opened to the public. In fact, Westword learned about it only after activist Kathleen Chippi forwarded us a copy of the invite she had obtained.
The first invitation that went out via e-mail to selected members of the cannabis industry said that no media would be invited. Westword challenged that decision, however, and we were given an invitation, as well as a log in to the online feed. According to Contreras, the meeting is purely informational -- a way for public health agency employees to get up to speed on what is happening at the state level. She said no public comment or questions will be allowed.
According to Chippi, the CDPHE pulled the online registration soon after she attempted to register. In her view, the meeting is a direct assault on patient rights. She expects that the group will focus on things like screening all newborns and mothers for THC.
The schedule sent to Westword indicates that these topics will be included in the discussion, though they appear to be only a small part. The day will also feature talks about edibles manufacturing and contaminate testing, what the state Marijuana Enforcement Division is doing with edibles inspections, location inspections and underage compliance, community programs through the Office of Behavioral Health (presumably dealing with teen use) and ways that the CDPHE can promote youth-cannabis-use prevention.
Also notable is an hour or so devoted to "outside perspectives" from a patient, a doctor and an industry representative. Cannabis advocate Max Montrose, who you may remember from his fight against a Fox31 stoned driving story, will be representing the patient/user side of things. Dr. Joe Cohen will speak on behalf of cannabis-recommending physicians and Mike Elliot with the Marijuana Industry Group is (of course) representing the perspectives of the marijuana industry.
The meeting starts at 8:30 this morning at the Courtyard Marriot Cherry Creek Skyline Ballroom, 1475 S. Colorado Blvd. in Denver, though we aren't sure if officials will actually grant access to the general public (they should). If not, you can view the day-long meeting via the CDPHE's webinar feed.
Read the entire agenda below.