Pubdate: Sat, 09 Jul 2011
Source: Fort Collins Coloradoan (CO)
Copyright: 2011 The Fort Collins Coloradoan
Author: Steve Ackerman
Note: Steve Ackerman is a longtime Fort Collins resident and business 
owner. He is president of the Fort Collins Medical Cannabis 
Association (FCMCA) and owner of Organic Alternatives.


In his Coloradoan July 2 Soapbox, Ray Martinez made many disparaging 
claims about medical marijuana centers in order to bolster his 
attempt to ban MMCs from Fort Collins. Too bad that none of his 
assertions are supported by facts.

Acting police Chief Jerry Schiager reported no medical marijuana 
business "surge in crime," and no increase in 911 calls (1). The 
ordinance regulating MMCs, passed by Fort Collins' City Council, is 
stricter than the state requires (2) In fact, state regulators track 
every gram of medicine produced by MMCs "from seed to sale" 
preventing any diversion to "the new black market" (3) as Martinez claims.

Proponents of the ban would also like us to believe, based on 
anecdotal "evidence," that marijuana use is up among teens and MMCs 
are the cause.

Wrong again.

Two studies released this week show the opposite. The National Center 
for Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that from 1999 to 2010, 
teen marijuana use dropped 22 percent (4). And a separate nationwide 
study shows that there is no causal relationship between medical 
marijuana and an increase in teen marijuana use (5).

MMCs are clearly not the boogey man that Martinez and company would 
have us believe.

Instead of fear-mongering and fantasy, we need a discussion based on reality.

The people of this state voted to make medical marijuana legal in 
2000. Lacking any regulatory framework, Colorado's state Legislature 
passed HB1284 in 2010. As a result, Colorado's licensed MMCs are the 
most heavily regulated and taxed among all 16 states that allow for 
medical marijuana use.

Criminals are out. Standards are in place. Taxes are collected. And 
law enforcement keeps a 24/7 watch to ensure compliance. While this 
is tedious and expensive for center owners, we know that our 
customers and community members feel more secure because of the tight 
restrictions and security.

Reality check:

More than 8,500 people hold valid licenses to purchase medical 
marijuana in Larimer County. That averages out to more than 16,000 
transactions a month, or 200,000 every year.

Let's imagine for a moment that Martinez gets his way and MMCs 
disappear. What then?

Patients will lose out. Treatment protocols will be interrupted when 
the products, services and specialists patients rely upon and trust 
disappear. This will result in negative health outcomes for patients.

Our economy will suffer. One half-million dollars in sales taxes will 
go uncollected every year. More than 200 people will lose their jobs. 
Dozens of commercial leases will be abandoned. Millions of dollars in 
business investments will be lost. Bankruptcies will soar.

Our neighborhoods will become less safe. Currently, medical marijuana 
businesses are licensed, regulated, secured, and taxed. If we ban 
these businesses, medical marijuana sales will be pushed into our 
neighborhoods where they will be unlicensed, unregulated, unsecured, 
and untaxed, and increase the risk of illegal sales, fires, and home invasions.

Assuming home growers follow the rules and serve only five patients 
each, 1,500 homes are needed to serve Larimer County's 8,500 
registered patients. That's 200,000 sales taking place in 1,500 
private homes! Home invasions, electrical fires and chemicals dumped 
unmonitored into our sewers will become common.

This will be a disaster.

medical marijuana centers are the safest way to ensure that legal 
patients have access while protecting our community.

Please act to keep MMCs legal in Fort Collins.

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Sources: 1: Schiager, Jerry. Statement to Council. City Council 
Adjourned Meeting & Work Session, Feb. 22. 2: Agenda Item Summary 
Feb. 22, Item 3. (n.d.). Agenda Item Summary, Issues Relating to 
Medical marijuana Businesses, (p. 2). Fort Collins.Fort Collins; 3: 
(2011). Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division Rules. 
Denver: State of Colorado Department of Revenue; 4: National Center 
for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, (June 29, 
2011). Adolescent Substance Use: America's #1 Public Health Problem 
(pg. 28). New York: CASA Columbia; 5: O'Keefe, K. E. a. (June 2011). 
Marijuana Use by Young People: The Impact of State Laws. Washington 
D.C.: Marijuana Policy Project.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom