Pubdate: Wed, 18 Nov 2015
Source: Colorado Springs Independent (CO)
Column: CannaBiz
Copyright: 2015 Colorado Springs Independent
Author: Griffin Swartzell


Knight's gambit

Last week, Colorado Springs' long-debated medical marijuana 
moratorium ordinance passed 6 to 3, with City Councilors Jill 
Gaebler, Bill Murray and Helen Collins opposing. With bitter 
resignation, the local medical marijuana industry accepted the 
inevitability of a six-month freeze on land permits for any new MMJ 
businesses - growing to dispensing, and everything in between.

Though the industry's concerns resulted in the ordinance being 
amended to allow existing businesses to expand or appeal in case of 
hardship, it's still a mess.

Jason Warf, director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, is 
worried that while the ordinance allows existing businesses to ask 
Council to approve land use permits - if an MMJ business' lease is 
about to end and the owners cannot renew or extend the lease or buy 
the property - the ordinance doesn't formalize a process for such an appeal.

"If we could have spelled it out, we would have set up a board of 
sorts to conduct the appeal process," he says, "[which] would include 
people from the industry."

Furthermore, he notes that the ordinance conflates recreational 
marijuana with Springs residents' medical needs. In the various 
"Whereas"es, for instance, the ordinance still talks about Amendment 
64 and the city's ban on recreational marijuana, issues with no 
relevance to Amendment 20.

He says, "We have to get past these unjust fears that cannabis is 
some gateway drug or a hard narcotic, which it just isn't."

Joke's on you

During a press briefing earlier this month, acting DEA head Chuck 
Rosenberg displayed his antiquated view on medical marijuana.

"What really bothers me," he said, "is the notion that marijuana is 
also medicinal - because it's not. We can have an intellectually 
honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad 
and dangerous, but don't call it medicine - that is a joke."

With a 2014 CNN poll showing that around 88 percent of Americans 
support legal medical marijuana, it's no surprise that Rosenberg's 
comments have hit America's outrage button. Marijuana advocacy 
website started a petition on asking 
the Obama administration to fire Rosenberg. As of Tuesday morning, 
the petition had garnered 87,000 signatures out of the 100,000 
required to mandate a White House response.

Last week, the DEA backpedaled, tying Rosenberg's response to the 
fact that the Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved any 
marijuana products for medical use. But Rosenberg's attitude ignores 
the most current medical literature. For instance, June saw the 
Journal of the American Medical Association publishing "Cannabinoids 
for Medical Use, A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis," which 
concluded that there is "moderate-quality evidence to support the use 
of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity."

Unfortunately, marijuana's Schedule 1 classification makes it very 
hard to run clinical trials and establish high-quality evidence. And 
the catch-22 is that Rosenberg and the DEA are in charge of approving 
clinical trials for Schedule 1 drugs.

To read or sign the petition, go to

Veteran's Day gift

The U.S. Senate did something useful and long overdue last week. Into 
the 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations 
bill, they tucked an amendment allowing Veterans Health 
Administration doctors to green-light medical marijuana use.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that the path to MMJ for vets is 
clear. U.S. News & World Report noted that the House of 
Representatives rejected the same idea by three votes back in April. 
And as we all learned from Schoolhouse Rock, if the House and Senate 
wind up passing different versions of the same bill, they have to 
negotiate a compromise bill before it goes to the White House.

Still, Michael Collins, Drug Policy Alliance deputy director of 
national affairs, told U.S. News that because April's margin of 
rejection was so narrow, and because both the House and Senate showed 
bipartisan support for the measure, odds are good that it will make 
it to President Obama's desk. That, of course, is assuming Congress 
manages to submit an overall spending plan to Obama before a looming 
Dec. 11 government shutdown.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom