|Photo: The Denver Chronicle|
|Aboute 200 marijuana advocates attended the rally in Denver, across the street from the Capitol.|
Marijuana advocates who rallied across the street from the state Capitol Thursday had harsh words for lawmakers considering regulations for Colorado’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry.
“Keep your grubby hands off of medical marijuana!” shouted activist Robert Chase toward the Capitol building.
About 200 marijuana backers attended the rally, timed to begin once Gov. Bill Ritter finished his State of the State speech, reports John Ingold of The Denver Post.
Many of the speakers criticized legislative proposals to strictly regulate, or even effectively outlaw, the state’s growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries. Several of those speaking at the rally urged marijuana advocates to contact elected officials to lobby for the cause, often even as they cast the relationship between advocates and lawmakers as an adversarial one.
|Activist/attorney Rob Corry: “We deserve a seat at the table”|
”We deserve a seat at that table,” attorney/marijuana activist Robert Corry said. “And if they don’t give us a seat at that table, well, I’ve got a flame-thrower we can use to deal with that table.”
Corry, who said he would soon unveil a “patient-centered” proposal for lawmakers to consider, but also said he wasn’t eager to see any new regulations adopted. Corry argued that Colorado’s current medical marijuana policy — which leaves dispensaries largely unregulated — is already protected under the state constitution.
A number of medical marijuana advocacy groups were conspicuous by their absence at the rally, according to reporter Ingold, and the speakers largely reflected the views of advocates who have grown frustrated with efforts to work with lawmakers on regulations for the industry.
|Photo: Sensible Colorado|
|Brian Vicente: “The voters of Colorado support sensible, responsible regulation of the medical marijuana industry”|
A separate group of advocates Wednesday announced the formation of “Sensible Patient and Provider Coalition,” a group of dispensary owners and patients vowing to push “the middle ground in the debate over regulation of medical marijuana.”
“The voters of Colorado support sensible, responsible regulation of the medical marijuana industry, and the majority of legislators recognize that,” said Brian Vicente, co-chair of the new coalition and executive director of Sensible Colorado. “It’s critical we come to consensus on this issue and then move on to other important issues that affect Coloradans.”
Some within the medical marijuana community believe they should move forward under the just-approved rules in the hope of more favorable guidelines in the future. But Corry is skeptical of that approach.
“Once government creates regulatory barriers, it’s very unlikely that government will back down,” he said. “Usually it increases and increases and adds more and more barriers to freedom. I’m usually an optimistic guy, but when you get smacked down by a unanimous city council, it’s hard to strike a completely optimistic tone.”