Colorado’s state-licensed medical marijuana businesses have recently come under attack by U.S. Attorney John Walsh for locating in areas he deems problematic - specifically being within 1000 feet of universities and other schools. In the past three months, Walsh has issued 50 letters to targeted medical marijuana shops asking them to close or face federal criminal and civil sanctions. Not surprisingly, all of these state-licensed stores have chosen to move their locations or close their doors entirely.
Instead of lamenting this negative turn of events, Colorado’s various medical marijuana advocacy and industry groups - including the United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union - recently decided to publish a letter highlighting the positive things these businesses bring to communities in Colorado. This attempt to shift focus to the positive contributions of Colorado’s emerging medical marijuana community, is re-printed in its entirety below.
A LETTER TO US ATTORNEY JOHN WALSH: “We Care about our Community, too”
Dear Mr. Walsh,
As parents, patients, business owners, and Colorado citizens, we are concerned by the recent letters sent by your office demanding certain state-approved medical marijuana businesses cease operations.
Since the dawn of this new health care field, we have worked closely with Colorado state and local governments to safely regulate medical marijuana sales and production, and have made great efforts – and gone to great expense—to establish a thorough and safe regulatory structure. Because of this collaboration between stakeholders and state and local officials, Colorado has emerged as the model among states that legally recognize the medicinal value of marijuana.
We stand in unison with patients and governing bodies across Colorado in our active commitment to continue the careful implementation of a secure and community-minded system of regulation. Here is a partial list of our contributions to the Colorado community:
• We have provided vital medicine to 164,000+ sick and disabled Colorado citizens whose doctors have recommended medical marijuana to them.
• We helped author and endorse SB 12-154-- to establish a responsible vendor program similar to what many Colorado jurisdictions currently require for alcohol sales.
• We are working with the Denver City Council to foster sensible regulations, including currently working on language to limit inappropriate advertisements, specifically public advertisements near schools and other sensitive areas.
• We worked with local papers, like the Colorado Springs Gazette, to establish community-conscious advertising with a proper healthcare focus.
• We employ over 5,000 Coloradans and provide them with a living wage so they can support their families. We also provide substantial support for ancillary businesses like electricians, carpenters, and engineers.
• Our businesses produce tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue with the first $2 million earmarked annually for programs critical to helping Colorado fight addiction and accompanying mental health issues. The Circle Program at Pueblo’s Colorado Mental Health Institute was on its last legs before this new tax supported it.
• We help create safer neighborhoods through the extensive use of security cameras and guards, by increased lighting in commercial areas, and by occupying otherwise vacant retail or warehouse space.
As committed members of the communities we live in, we believe in responsible regulation of this important, and growing, health care field. We also share your concern about teens accessing medical marijuana and have taken serious steps to reduce any redistribution. We welcome a thoughtful discussion about the potential areas for improvement in the current regulatory structure.
Association of Cannabis Trades for Colorado (ACT4CO)
Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA)
Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patients Rights (C4CPR)
Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council (CSMCC)
Green Faith Ministry
In Harmony Wellness Services
Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of America (MMAPA)
Medical Marijuana Business Alliance (MMBA)
Women’s Marijuana Movement
United Food and Commercial Workers Union: Local 7
Fertile Ground is a monthly column highlighting the hottest state and national issues surrounding marijuana reform. This column is brought to you by Brian Vicente, the Executive Director of the advocacy group Sensible Colorado, and a partner at Vicente Sederberg LLC, a full service medical marijuana law firm.