Medical pot supporters rally at state Capitol |

Medical pot supporters rally at state Capitol

Associated Press Writer

DENVER – Acknowledging that they have an image problem, supporters of medical marijuana held a rally at the Colorado Capitol on Friday to support better regulation of their industry.

About a dozen people braved subfreezing temperatures on the west steps of the Capitol to speak on behalf of the Colorado Patients and Providers Coalition, which says it wants to reassure Coloradans that the medical marijuana industry is legitimate.

Coalition president Josh Stanley says the industry has a problem because of a lack of regulation and abuse and the group is working with state lawmakers on reforms.

“We have to acknowledge we have an image problem. What we’re trying to do is provide a level of legitimacy and we need to weed out those who are abusing the system,” Stanley said.

Stanley said his coalition is working with Colorado state lawmakers to write regulations that will go before the Legislature next year.

Colorado Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said he plans to introduce legislation in January that would require dispensaries to buy licenses, as well as pay the state’s 2.9 percent sales tax.

He said giving the state the ability to regulate the industry will give dispensaries more legitimacy.

Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, but the number of dispensaries took off earlier this year after the Obama administration signaled it would defer to state laws on marijuana.

State Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said some dispensaries are little more than head shops and the industry needs further regulation to ensure patients get the drugs they need and aren’t abusing them.

Erik Santus said he started using marijuana for gout after narcotics failed to ease his pain. He said better regulation will provide some assurance that patients don’t lose their newly found benefits.

“These are people who want off pills and don’t want to hurt their body,” he said.

Rashin D’Angelo, co-owner of the Rocky Mountain Healing Center, said her business takes referrals from doctors to provide psychotherapy, chiropractors, acupuncture and other treatment to medical marijuana patients to help them cope with their medical problems.

She said she doesn’t dispense marijuana and it isn’t used on the premises. She said that also will help the industry improve its reputation and provide more legitimacy.

“We’re helping the industry become well-rounded. It helps remove some of the stigma of medical marijuana. It’s just one piece of wellness health care,” she said.

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