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ACTION ALERT: March 28, 2014

Colorado Proposes Caregiver Limits - Patients Will Suffer

Edibles and extracts supplied by caregivers would be eliminated.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is having a "Town Hall" meeting on Friday, March 28 in Denver to discuss "proposed legislation" to limit patient and caregiver rights. The CDPHE has refused to supply CTI with a copy of the "proposed legislation", but the agenda for the meeting indicates that they want to limit caregivers to cultivating 6
plants. If passed, this legislation would restrict caregivers' ability to provide edible cannabis or cannabis extracts like Rick Simpson Oil, used as a cancer-fighting medicine.

Pot Caregiver Crackdown Rekindled in Colorado

Friday, March 28, 2014
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Old Supreme Court Chambers
State Capitol Building (2nd Floor)
200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203

Also on the agenda for this meeting will be:
- Limit caregivers to 6 plants per patient
- Limit caregivers to 5 patients: This is already in statute, but CDPHE can make exceptions. It is unclear why this needs to be re-addressed.
- overview of the CDPHE's failed state audit last year
- CDPHE's new policy on medical necessity review: CDPHE has refused to provide CTI with an advanced copy of this "new policy"

Article XVIII, Section 14 of the Constitution (popularly known as Amendment 20), states that a caregiver can supply a patient with whatever amount of medicine is "medically necessary" to treat their condition. A 6 plant limit per caregiver would abrogate this Constitutional right.

Proponents of a "caregiver crackdown" claim that there are caregivers all over the state selling cannabis openly for profit for multiple patients. If this were true, there are already statutes in Colorado that limit caregivers to no more than 5 patients each and prohibit caregivers from
making a profit on their medicine. These laws were part of the HB1284-era of laws supported by dispensaries in 2010 and 2011, which eliminated 90% of the caregivers in Colorado. If there are any caregivers breaking the law, they can be prosecuted right now, so there is no need for new laws.

Amendment 20 contemplated a compassionate system of medical marijuana distribution where the patients would be protected from criminal prosecution, and the medicine would be supplied by caregivers. This system worked without problems from 2000 until 2009, when the government crackdown began.

With the passage of House Bill 1284 in 2010, the government gutted the caregiver model for medicinal cannabis distribution, even though this was the system approved by voters. They forced patients to shop in Medical Marijuana Centers (which are not caregivers and therefore not protected by the Constitution). MMCs did not have the same quality and variety that caregivers provided, so patients suffered.

Now with the passage of Amendment 64 (recreational marijuana), the government wants to shut down the medical program altogether and force patients to shop in A64-stores, where cannabis is highly taxed to fund law enforcement, government propaganda campaigns and some school construction. MMCs are not subject to the A64 40%+ additional taxes, so patients can find less expensive medicine there.

According to the Denver Post, the CDPHE meeting on Friday may be being held as a "last-minute attempt to placate lawmakers, not a genuine attempt to listen to caregivers."

Indeed, there is evidence of this. The CDPHE's "Town Hall" Meeting is set from 1pm to 4pm, with the 1:30pm to 3:30pm time slot allocated exclusively for public comment. So, clearly, the main purpose of this meeting is for public comment. However, the CDPHE has done everything they can to make sure attendance at, or even knowledge of, this meeting is as minimal as
- CDPHE announced the meeting on their website on Monday afternoon, giving only 4 days notice
- CDHPE scheduled the meeting for Friday afternoon, probably the worst time of the week if you want to maximize attendance
- CDPHE claims that they sent an email to all those on the email notification list, but people who are known to be on the list received no such email
- CDPHE refused to send an email to the 200,000+ active and inactive patients and caregivers on the Registry, with no explanation why.
- CDPHE deceptively named the meeting a "Town Hall" meeting, indicating a local city or town was having a discussion, not that a statewide body was meeting to discuss a statewide issue.
- CDPHE refused to give CTI a copy of the "proposed legislation" that was to be discussed at that meeting
- No member of the General Assembly will be in attendance at the meeting, only CDPHE employees. If the purpose of the meeting is "proposed legislation", why are no legislators going to attend?

If you would like to attend the meeting, you are certainly encouraged to voice your opinion in person. But since no one from the General Assembly will even be in attendance to hear your concerns and the CDPHE has no authority to propose bills or enact statutes of their own, who will you be talking to? CTI will be there to report on what happened at the meeting.

We do encourage you to send an email and have all your friends send an
email. It is VERY IMPORTANT that the General Assembly hear your concerns.



Dear General Assembly:

Please do not enact any laws that restrict the amount of cannabis that a caregiver is allowed to grow. Many patients need more than 6 plants because their medical condition requires therapies (like edibles), which are produced with more raw material than 6 plants can produce. Under A20, a patient is allowed to have whatever amounts are "medically necessary". A restriction on caregivers' cultivation will deny patients this Constitutional right.

There is currently no evidence of any widespread problem with caregivers growing too much medicine. If there were, law enforcement has adequate tools now to investigate and prosecute caregivers. As you know, caregivers are already limited to 5 patients and are not allowed to make a profit, so if there is any problem, it can be addressed with current laws.

The intent of A20 was to allow a compassionate system of medical marijuana distribution where the patients would be protected from criminal prosecution, and the medicine would be supplied by caregivers. This system worked without problems from 2000 until 2009, when Medical Marijuana Centers were established and caregivers were restricted. Many patients don't like to shop at MMCs because of privacy concerns or because only their caregiver can supply them with the exact type of medicine they need. MMCs are not part of A20. Caregivers are. Please don't restrict patient choice any further than you already have.

PS -- I did NOT get notice of this proposed law from the CDHPE. I heard about the issue through a patient advocacy group. Please tell the CDPHE to do a better job of contacting patients and caregivers about issues that affect them.


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