Battle lines drawn over Colorado cannabis clinics

Posted on August 29th, 2011 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

cannabisSweet Leaf Pioneer owner Dave Manzanares in Eagle, Colo., must shut down his medical marijuana dispensary Oct. 31, even if he proceeds with plans to collect signatures for a special election to keep it open in the long term. On Aug. 23, Manzanares told members of the town board that he is circulating petitions to put the question to the voters, and asked for an extension beyond the Oct. 31 deadline established by a municipal ordinance. "Our family's future is in the balance here," Manzanares said.

But because he missed deadlines for placing the initiative on the Nov. 1 ballot, the question will either be decided in a special election or it will have to wait until the April 12 scheduled municipal election.

In a split vote, town board members opted to enforce the ordinance approved in February that enacts a ban on cannabis-related businesses. Part of the ordinance stipulates that such operations that were in business at the time of the ban could continue in operation until Oct. 31. Sweet Leaf Pioneer is the only operation affected by the deadline. (Vail Daily, Aug. 23)

The group behind a petition to ban cannabis dispensaries in the town of Palisade turned in nearly 200 signatures. The validity of the signatures is being challenged by Colorado Alternative Healthcare, Mesa County's only dispensary. (KJCT, Grand Junction, Aug. 2)

The Colorado Springs State Bank sent out letters earlier this month to all of its medical marijuana account holders, informing them that their accounts need to be closed by the end of September. The bank was the last one to publicly do business with medical cannabis establishments in the state. It now says it can no longer keep the accounts due to legal issues stemming from federal law. (420 Times, Aug. 24)

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 23 that a Denver street sweeper who tested positive on a drug test is not entitled to unemployment benefits—despite the fact that he is a state-recognized medical cannabis user. ​Jason Beinor had a doctor's note allowing him to legally purchase and use cannabis, which he says helped him lose weight, get off alcohol, and generally improve his life.

But Service Group, Inc., the company that hired him to sweep Denver's 16th Street Mall with a broom and dustpan, did not care. SGI appealed a lower court decision in  Beinor's favor. The appeals court ruled for SGI, citing Article XVIII of the Colorado constitution, which states that an employee who tests positive for "controlled substances" that are "not medically prescribed" doesn't qualify for benefits. In a sort of Catch-22, under Colorado's medical marijuana law doctors aren't technically allowed to prescribe cannabis, only recommend it, due to the federal Schedule I classification. (420 Times, Denver Westword, Aug. 23)

In more positive news, a former police officer is joining the effort to legalize cannabis in Colorado. Retired Denver officer Tony Ryan helped gather signatures for the "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act," which would make cannabis legal in personal amounts for adults over 21. "During my 36 years as a Denver cop I arrested more people for marijuana than I care to remember, but it didn't amount to one bit of good for our citizens," Ryan said. "Keeping marijuana illegal doesn't do anything to reduce marijuana use, but it does benefit the gangs and cartels who control the currently illegal marijuana trade." Ryan is now with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). (The Denver Channel, Aug. 3)

Photo by the Mad Pothead


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