Dispensary Reform Debate Winds Down

Posted by S. Bergstrom

on Monday, May 3, 2010

After a long and sometimes grueling battle, efforts to regulate medical marijuana and medical marijuana dispensaries are winding down in Colorado's legislature. While a major regulation and licensing bill is set for a vote in the full Senate later this week, a Republican-sponsored bill that would have allowed Colorado voters to decide whether dispensaries throughout the state would be outlawed died in committee along a party-line vote.

The quest for comprehensive dispensary licensing and regulation has been long and arduous, starting even before Colorado's General Assembly opened its session in January. Foes of medical marijuana prepared bills in advance that would have all but eliminated dispensaries by imposing strict restrictions on how many patients each dispensary was permitted to serve.

As the session wore on, however, such strict measures fell by the wayside, and members of both Colorado's House and Senate demonstrated their willingness to compromise and negotiate with MM supporters in good faith. In the end, major provisions that would have unduly limited how many patients for whom a dispensary could provide medical marijuana were settled through reasonable dialogue.

Indeed, the way medical marijuana regulation has been handled in Colorado serves as a role model for the rest of the nation as they decide whether or how to legalize this time-honored medicine. The proliferation of dispensaries in the past eighteen months was accomplished peacefully without the upswing in crime many critics said would accompany it. Likewise, both medical marijuana dispensary owners and state legislators met each other half-way to hammer out legislation that addressed both the concerns of patients and the public.