Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Assaulting Patients Rights--it's all about paranoia and greed

What a beautiful day here in Denver! However, as beautiful as the weather is, there is a nasty cloud brewing over the State Legislature this week, as they prepare to vote on HB 1284. The feeling is that they may move forward in passing the bill by weeks end. Though it will certainly be shot down in the courts, this is still alarming.

The Senators I've spoken to on the subject agree that the bill has major problems, but seem to feel pressure to pass something by the end of this session. Personally I take this as them saying that patient's aren't what's important here--regulations are. I couldn't disagree more. Rushing legislation that is ineffective will cause more harm than good, and patients will feel the brunt of that harm while the courts settle it out.

The only portions of HB1284 that are favorable to the industry will be a disaster for patients. Disallowing small-time caregivers to sell their overstock to dispensaries in order to recoup their costs and labor will do two things:

1.) force the small caregiver who doesn't have a $7000 dispensary license and all the red tape that goes with it onto the black market, where the community misses out on the benefit of tax revenue that could have been collected.

2.)Lower the quality of medicine significantly--as the small and medium sized businesses die off, we will be left with giant conglomerate dispensaries, growing their product with chemicals (for the highest yields) and mass producing it instead of focusing on the quality of it. Instead of growing the strains that their patients need they will grow the strains that yield the most. Patients will be forced, too, to seek out the same small caregivers on the black market who could have been supplying their high quality product to dispensaries, where the transaction is regulated, taxed, and recorded.

Inevitably, this portion of the bill will lead to the deregulation of the market as people flock to the black market.

The bill also treats medical cannabis business to a much different standard than pharmacies, which I feel is both wrong and unconstitutional. Here in America we have a funny way of demanding equality and then legislating it out of existence. Cannabis is a much safer medicine than 85% of the drugs sold in a pharmacy, and yet cannabis businesses would be subjected to inspectors with guns, extreme security requirements, and excessive government meddling in their business operations, while pharmacies are subjected to none of these things, in spite of being the largest source of drug addiction in America today (prescription drugs are the most widely abused currently by teens AND adults).

Contact your Senator NOW, before it's too late, and tell them that they should vote no on the current form of the bill, in favor of future debate on the subject either in the next legislative session, or in an emergency session this summer. In the end I am confident that Colorado voters will vote to amend the constitution this fall via much more reasonable legislation drafted by patients to be voted on in November's election.

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