|Cannabinated Colorado: It appears inevitable that medical marijuana regulations are coming to the Mile High State.|
The first attempt by the Legislature to regulate Colorado’s medical marijuana industry just passed its first test at the Capitol.
The Senate Health & Human Services Committee voted 6-1 Wednesday to back a bill aimed at preventing doctors from issuing medical marijuana recommendations to recreational users, reports Colleen Slevin of The Associated Press.
About 150 people attended the hearing, and most opposed the bill, fearing it would make medical marijuana more expensive.
|Colorado State Capitol in Denver|
If the bill becomes law, doctors will have to give prospective medical marijuana patients a full exam and provide follow-up care.
Some marijuana advocates fear that requiring follow-up visits could cost patients, many of whom are seriously ill and financially strapped, hundreds of extra dollars per year.
Patients already have to pay a $90 annual fee to register as medical marijuana users.
William Chengelis said he can’t get his regular Veterans Administration doctors to sign off on medical marijuana and said buying pot illegally and paying the $100 fine would be cheaper than paying a private doctor for follow-up visits.
“I cannot afford this bill,” Chengelis told lawmakers.
The committee responded by recommending allowing the state to waive the $90 fee for those who can’t afford it. Bill sponsor, Sen. Chris Romer (D-Denver) said he is considering allowing veterans to get their medical expenses reimbursed by dispensaries, since Veteran’s Administration doctors aren’t allowed to recommend medical marijuana.
Backers also wanted to require patients between 18 and 21 years old to get a second opinion, but the committee rejected that.
Fear that dispensaries would attract crime has been raised by those concerned about the proliferation of pot shops, but Denver police are saying there appears to be little cause for concern.
According to police, medical marijuana dispensaries were robbed or burglarized at a lower rate than liquor stores or even banks last year. According to The Denver Post on Wednesday, dispensaries were hit at about the same rate as pharmacies.