County Given Federal Clearance To Take Patients To Pot Dispensary

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Photo: V. Richard Haro/The Coloradoan
Donnie Hayes of Fort Collins, Colorado, is a blind medical marijuana patient who was initially denied a ride to the dispensary in a county vehicle for disabled people.

‚ÄčLarimer County, Colorado officials have given the go-ahead for a disabled medical marijuana patient to resume catching a ride to get his medicine at a dispensary in a county-owned vehicle.

The Larimer Lift, a paratransit service for disabled people living outside city limits, will now take clients to medical marijuana dispensaries “and anywhere else they wish to go,” according to Gary Darling, director of criminal justice services for the county, reports Kevin Dugan at the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Larimer Lift officials had previously stopped taking Donnie Hayes, a blind medical marijuana patient, to a dispensary in Fort Collins, blaming their uncertainty over whether doing so could jeopardize federal funding for the program.

Hayes has a state-issued medical marijuana card, but possession of marijuana for any reason remains a federal crime.
After notifying the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) of the potential conflict between federal and state law, the program was given clearance to transport medical marijuana patients, according to Darling.
“We were told we need to follow what the contract says, which is to provide transportation services,” he said.
The FTA’s direction was that the Larimer Lift program should not “judge the destination” of a person who qualifies for a ride, according to Joe Ferrando, director of Community Corrections, which operates the paratransit service.
Hayes said he’s glad the matter is cleared up. He used Larimer Lift last week to visit a dispensary and buy marijuana.
“They’ll take me wherever I want to go, no questions asked,” he said. “I’m happy with that.”
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