Colorado: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Regulations Take Effect

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Denver, CO: Democrat Gov. William Ritter signed legislation into law last week amending the state's nearly ten-year-old medical marijuana law.

House Bill 1284 establishes state provisions regulating the distribution of medical cannabis to authorized patients. The law requires medical marijuana dispensing facilities to obtain state and local licensing approval and to be in compliance with all local zoning codes. Dispensaries must pay a state licensing fee, shall be located no closer than 1,000 feet from a school or daycare, and operators must oversee the cultivation at least 70 percent of the marijuana dispensed at the center. Licensed dispensary owners will be required to undergo criminal background checks by the state.

The measure also imposes a statewide moratorium on the establishment of new dispensaries, beginning next month. House Bill 1284 grants local municipalities the authority to prohibit the establishment of dispensaries in their community. Individual caregivers are legally permitted to provide medical cannabis for up to five patients in localities that have formally banned dispensaries.

A second measure signed by Gov. Ritter, Senate Bill 109, limits the authority of physicians so that they may only recommend cannabis therapy to patients with whom they have had a prior counseling relationship. The law also requires doctors to conduct a physical exam of any patient before they recommend marijuana, and prohibits physicians from having a financial relationship with a cannabis dispensary.

Both laws went into effect immediately upon passage.

It is anticipated that hundreds of the state's dispensaries will likely be forced to close under the new regulations.

According to a National Public Radio report, over 65,000 Coloradoans are now registered with the state to use marijuana legally under state law.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500.