Medical marijuana in Aspen?
April 22, 2009
ASPEN ” Aspenites hoping to smoke their way to relieving pain or other symptoms of various ailments may soon be in luck, as a group of locals reportedly is working on setting up a medical marijuana outlet in Aspen.
Aspen attorney Lauren Maytin, a defense attorney who has worked with the Colorado office of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, confirmed Tuesday that she has been acting on behalf of an unidentified group of locals who want to open up a dispensary here.
The dispensary would conform to Colorado medical marijuana laws, she said. She has been contacting local officials to determine their feelings about the proposal.
Colorado voters in 2000 passed Amendment 20 to the state constitution. It authorizes individuals to use pot “to lessen the debilitating symptoms of a number of serious medical illnesses,” according to the website medicalmarijuana.net.
The law permits an authorized patient to possess up to 2 ounces of “a usable form of marijuana” or “no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants that are producing a usable form of marijuana,” according to the amendment.
The law also allows for dispensaries, under the general classification of “caregiver,” and there are several operating around Colorado, including on the Western Slope, Maytin said.
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She declined to name the individuals she is representing, or to give the location of a potential retail storefront where the dispensary might ultimately open up.
But she said she has talked with Sheriff Bob Braudis and with Police Chief Richard Pryor ” though only briefly ” to learn their thinking about the project, “so that those who want to open up a dispensary can do so in harmony with the rules of state and local governments.”
Maytin will meet again with Pryor on May 12, and she also plans to contact City Attorney John Worcester and City Clerk Kathryn Koch to begin the process of getting a business license.
Worcester, asked if there are any city laws that might interfere with the plan, said simply, “I don’t know. I’m not versed in this area of the law. It hasn’t come up before.”
Braudis, who has well-known negative views of the efficacy of U.S. drug policies, said he feels “that if it’s legal and appropriately managed, the medicinal properties of cannabis will become more easily acquired by patients in the upper Roaring Fork Valley.”
He added, “I have no problem with an appropriately operated dispensary of marijuana.”
Pryor, who like Worcester has not researched the subject, also said that if it is in keeping with the law, he would not have a problem with a dispensary in Aspen.
Maytin, while declining to even say how many are in the group she is representing, did said that, “in general, people who open dispensaries are people who have been listed as a caregiver for marijuana patients.”
The regional agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Jim Schrant, said that his agency has a formal policy of not commenting about medical marijuana dispensaries or state laws legalizing the use of marijuana. He pointed out that such dispensaries are licensed by the state Department of Public Health and the Environment, which is where he refers all calls on the subject.
Regarding reports that DEA agents had been called off medical marijuana dispensaries in California by President Obama, and a question about how that might affect Colorado, Schrant also had no comment.
According to the CDPHE website, eight Pitkin County residents are on the state’s registry of medical marijuana patients. The statewide total of applications for a medical marijuana certificate since the program began in 2001 is 7,385, most of whom were men at the average age of 32, the website reports.