Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clarifying HB 1284 and SB 109 for Colorado Medical Marijuana Reform

Here's a little more info on SB 109 and HB 1284 from Matt Brown of Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation. Believe what you want, I'm not yet convinced that CMMR represents the rights of smaller dispensaries, but time will tell. My comments are inserted in brackets where I felt they were necessary-- Shorty Smallz

Quoted from Matt Brown:

"Sen. Romer's SB109:

FICTION: SB109 would "destroy the confidentiality of the (medical marijuana) registry."

FACT: SB109 does nothing to impact the absolute confidentiality for patients and providers enshrined in Amendment 20. Opponents of SB109 attempt to connect the medical oversight provided by the Board of Medical Examiners in SB109 to a loss a patient privacy, despite no such link in the actual text of the bill. The section of SB109 dealing with referring a physician to the Board of Medical Examiners (SB109, pg 4, lines 6-16) specifically reiterates that the CDPHE medical marijuana registry is confidential. If the CDPHE suspects that a physician may be inappropriately writing MMJ recommendations, the CDPHE may use aggregate data contained in the registry to refer that doctor to the BME. This is a similar process to how physicians practicing other specialties would be referred to the BME for suspected inappropriate behavior.

Source: Senate Bill 10-109, page 4, lines 6-16

FICTION: SB109 would require all patients 18-23 to receive two independent opinions before being added to the MMJ registry.

FACT: Last Friday the House voted overwhelmingly to reject the conference committee report on SB109 and sent the bill back to conference committee to be reworked, specifically because of this new restriction. Amendment 20 is very clear on providing special rules for applicants under 18, in line with their legal status as a minor. Amendment 20 also draws a bright line for patients 18 and over and does not offer the ability for new rules to unconstitutionally restrict the rights of these adults aged 18-23. The General Assembly simply doesn't have the power to mandate more restrictive rules for a group of adults already covered by Amendment 20. The rejection by the House of this new restriction on 18-23 year olds shows that the legislature is not willing to pass such blatently disallowed restrictions on patient rights under Amendment 20.

[ This is a good step forward!]


Rep. Massey's HB1284 - Dispensary Regulations:

FICTION: This bill requires a $50,000 annual licensing fee.

FACT: Nowhere in this bill is anything close to a $50,000 fee mentioned, much less required. In the official Fiscal Note for HB1284 (attached), the official estimate is that a dispensary license would cost $1,800/yr and Department of Revenue expects to issue 1,100 of these permits in 2011. State fees must be based on actual expenses incurred in the process of administering these licenses, and there is no evidence to support anything close to a $50,000 fee per license. Sen. Romer did make comments at a number of recent events saying he wanted to ADD such a fee to the bill, but no language supporting a $50,000 fee appears anywhere in HB1284.

Source: Fiscal Note on HB10-1284, dated April 5, 2010, Table 1 on page 3.

[again, this is more reasonable, and less cause for concern, it may be that Chris Romer has been running his mouth simply to aggravate people--I suggest we vote out Chris Romer in November no matter what happens with these bills, he's an irresponsible leader who likes to create hysteria, and he must go!!!]

FICTION: HB1284 seeks to eliminate 95% of dispensaries.

FACT: The current fiscal note estimates 1,100 licenses to be issued for the "Medical Marijuana Center" dispensary license. Unless there are close to 21,000 dispensaries operating statewide, nowhere near 95% would be closed down. More intuitively, it seems hard to believe that a $5/day fee is prohibitive enough to cause widespread closures of legitimate dispensaries. ($1,800 divided by 365 = $4.93/day)

Source: Fiscal Note on HB10-1284, dated April 5, 2010, Table 1 on page 3.

[ estimates there are 1,624 liquor stores in Colorado (there are probably more than this), and there are no restrictions on new stores forming. That means there are over 500 more liquor stores than the projected amount of dispensary licenses to be issued state wide under HB 1284. If the capitalistic system is good enough to tell us when we have too many bars, liquor stores, grocery stores, restaurants, etc., then it will tell us when we have too many dispensaries, i.e. some will close their doors if they can't pay the bills. If all the shops in an area are making it, it would be hard to argue that there is not enough demand to support them all. ]

FICTION: Regulators will be in your dispensary every 5-7 days.

FACT: The official estimates contained in the Fiscal Note for HB1284 call for Department of Revenue to allocate 12 criminal investigators spread between 4 locations across the state. Additionally, DOR plans for 3 1/2 full-time auditors and just under 8 full-time administrative staff. Assuming 1,100 dispensary licenses, these 12 auditors would need to make 57,200 on-site inspections every year to visit each location about once a week. This would come to approximately 92 visits per inspector, per week. Assuming a 40 hour work week, each inspection would therefore have to take no more than 26 minutes including all travel time between locations. This analysis doesn't even include the estimated 800 total "optional premises" and "infused products" licenses. With those licensees included, weekly investigations of MMJ licenses could take no more than 16 minutes each, including all travel time.

Obviously, there is no way the Department could conduct weekly inspections like this. What is likely to happen is the exact same experience car dealers, tobacco licensees, lottery retailers, liquor licensees and casinos have with the Department of Revenue. Inspectors will be available to make random spot checks of licensees and more in-depth investigations will occur when suspicious behavior is detected.

Source: Fiscal Note on HB10-1284, dated April 5, 2010, chart on page 1; Table 1 on page 3; "Personal Services" on page 5;

[Even if the state will be unable to fill such a tall order (as Matt points out), the fact is that they shouldn't be talking about "inspectors with guns" in the first place, or trying to take on such lofty regulation that isnt applied to liquor stores etc. Dispensaries are not dangerous places, they are robbed less than banks OR liquor stores. Do you think the FDIC sends armed inspectors to dig through a banks' inventory? I doubt it. This amounts to treating MMJ businesses with a double standard-- WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THAT IN ANY FORM, OUR RIGHTS ARE CONSTITUTIONALLY MANDATED]

FICTION: Law Enforcement will track patient purchases of their medicine.

FACT: No such system exists, nor does the actual text of HB1284 in any way authorize this level of tracking. Section 12-43.3-202 of HB1284 makes clear that the Department of Revenue must "Maintain the confidentiality of reports obtained from a licensee showing the sales volume or quantity of medical marijuana sold or any other records that are exempt from public inspection pursuant to state law."

Source: HB1284 -- Preamended Version, page 9 lines 16-19; Section 12-43.3-202. Powers and Duties of State Licensing Authority, pages 8-13.

[I'm still very unclear here as to whether Law Enforcement will have access to the registry at all--this is barred by Amendment 20, and if they are trying to grant such access, this is a violation of patient privacy rights. Are any of these politicians ready to surrender their private medical records to us, or to Law Enforcement? Doubtful, so again that's a double standard we won't abide by!]

FICTION: Law Enforcement may conduct "Warrentless Searches" of dispensaries whenever they want.

FACT: HB1284 prohibits local law enforcement from having access to confidential disclosures to the Department of Revenue, and local law enforcement is not given any authority to search or seize anything at a dispensary without proper cause. If local law enforcement receives information that you are breaking other laws, they may investigate within the normal scope of their authority. Department of Revenue's authority only extends to their ability to spot check the books and records of a licensee to determine if illegal behavior, related to that license, are occuring. All other inspections and investigations must follow normal due process.

Source: HB1284 -- Preamended Version, page 9 lines 16-20; page 12 line 24 through page 13 line 5. "

[At the end of the day, some serious changes still need to be made before any law is put into effect. Attempts to threaten doctors or dispensers via legislation will be rewarded with votes against candidates who support them, period. Get involved, contact your senator and ask them questions about their stance, and why they support or do not support these bills!-- Shorty Smallz]

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