By: Tim Martin – Oct, 25th 2010
In an expected action the Denver City Council has dealt a crushing blow to private Medical Cannabis caregivers and passed regulation making private caregiver operations all but obsolete within the City. In a vote Monday night of 12-1 Council members adopted a measure to limit households within the City to just twelve plants total, and only two patients per home who must also live in the household. Despite a new State law and regulation under HB 1284 allowing for up to 30 plants with a five patient limit per private caregiver, Denver City Council members saw fit to tighten those regulations more within Denver.
The law effectively eliminates private caregivers from growing Cannabis for anyone but themselves and another person in the household. Each of the possible two patients per home are allowed six plants a piece and cannot caregive for anyone outside the home. Violations of the regulation would face tough fines and possible prosecution if inspections of a home revealed gross violations or lack of continued compliance. It’s not clear how the law will be enforced.
Most of the almost two hour public comment hearing was spent with council members commenting on their personal beliefs why the measure was proper to implement. Councilman Charlie Brown commented saying “..if Medical marijuana people (proponents) had cooperated would we be here (making this legislation)?” Another Councilwoman commented to citizens in the hearing that had voiced concerns of foot traffic in and out of caregivers homes near them asking them, “Do these people look like they have a debilitating illness?”. Patients complained in and out of the hearing not everyone can grow Cannabis and the rules would limit access to those who need the more personalized services a private caregiver could offer.
New patients under ongoing formation of HB 1284 regulations are not allowed to visit Medical Marijuana Centers within 35 days of obtaining a signed recommendation. The rule stems from wording in Colorado Amendment 20 that allows the State Health Department to reject a Med MJ application within 35 days of recommendation. Private caregivers would be the ones to fill the void of time in which patients would be rejected by Medical Marijuana Centers.
During the hearing Denver City Council also heard from a few residents for the strict regulation and one man who stated his neighbor was growing over 60 plants and with a new born child on the way he didn’t feel his safety or his new born child’s safety were secured with having a “large” Cannabis operation next door. Council members used a few small situations like this throughout their comments as reasons why the law needed to be supported.
The Denver City Council also adopted wording as part of the law that will make them revisit the regulation in two years to see if the rules are working with the City and its neighborhoods.
The new Denver regulation could face a tough challenge in court though. Boulder, Colorado resident and Medical Marijuana patient Jason Lauve was acquitted last year of felony possession charges in a jury trial, despite the fact he had 35 ounces or 17 times the amount of suggested Medical Marijuana listed for personal use in Colorado’s Amendment 20. Lauve was injured in an accident in 2004 at Eldora Ski Resort and says he mixes smoking and using concentrates daily to control pain better than any pain management tool he has come across. His case is important because part of Colorado’s Medical Marijuana law allows patients in court to use an “affirmative defense”, allowing themselves and their doctors the decision on an appropriate amount of Cannabis to posses in managing care, also allowing more than the suggested 2 ounces and 6 plants listed in Amendment 20. Jason Lauve’s acquittal reaffirmed this right in court.
The Denver City Council addressed the issue of Court challenge and constitutionality with its City Attorney stating Courts recently have decided on the side of regulation and have not favored Medical Marijuana advocates, and the City should feel confident in litigating any issues that rise from the new law.
9 people testified at the public comment Hearing. 5 against the regulation, and 4 in favor of it.