As throngs of pot-smokers gathered in civic center park Tuesday to celebrate the unofficial marijuana holiday of 4/20, the Colorado House passed a tough medical marijuana bill that rolled back many of the concessions that dispensary owners had won earlier in the legislative session regarding regulation of the industry.
The bill (House Bill 1284) would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to stay open, but places tighter restrictions on who can operate them, and paves the way for tighter local control.
Under HB 1284, convicted felons would have to wait 5 years before obtaining a license to open dispensaries (called "centers" in the bill), and those convicted of a drug-related felony would be barred completely from owning a dispensary.
Furthermore, lawmakers reinserted an amendment into the bill that would allow local governments to ban dispensaries. This comes after dispensary owners' early objections to--and the subsequent removal of--a provision that would have allowed local governments to call a public vote on whether to ban marijuana dispensaries. The bill approved by the house allows them to bypass the public vote.
These regulations come on top of zoning and licensing requirements for new medical marijuana "centers"
The bill did, however, leave the door open for the legal use of medical marijuana for veterans suffering from PTSD. Under the bill, the Department of Health will have to hold a hearing to approve new conditions that qualify for medical marijuana treatment within 180 days of receiving a petition.
Reactions from the medical marijuana community were varied, with marijuana advocacy groups like the Cannabis Therapy Institute calling it "a monstrosity," and others like Sensible Colorado calling the legislation a step "in the right direction."
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