It is just pot, people.
Yes, weed, reefer, ganja, a little sticky icky-icky — call it what you will — but trust me, it is in Colorado to stay.
So can we all please grow up now?
I swore I'd never keep breakfast down if I read one more medical- marijuana story. And yet, here I find myself writing one. We have all lost our minds on this.
City and state officials from across Colorado continue to virtually lose their minds fighting against the smoky haze of medical marijuana, made legal in 2000 by Amendment 20, flailing away with short-sighted rules, moratoriums and outright bans in increasingly silly-looking attempts to rebottle the dope genie.
It is not entirely their fault. When an estimated 400 people a week are getting doctors' permission to buy medical marijuana, and dispensaries are popping up like dandelions, there should maybe be cause for concern or, at least, a little regulation.
I have been a believer in the medicinal properties of marijuana since the day nearly 20 years ago that I interviewed a 50-ish man who told of going out every night after work to the roughest part of town to buy weed for his ailing, elderly mother.
She could barely move from her pain — until he began bringing home nickel and dime bags of marijuana. I still remember her walking around and laughing, likely stoned out of her mind, when she brought us tea during that interview.
This is why I had planned to just savage Charlie Brown this morning. Maybe you have read of the Denver city councilman's ordinance proposal on dispensaries.
Some of it, I assumed, was simply more lunatic ideas by a politician terrified of the mere thought of marijuana, that if he flung around enough red tape, it would all go away.
There were rules on prior convictions, of what can and cannot be done inside a dispensary, plus a laundry list of other requirements that no sane businessman would tolerate, much less a weed purveyor.
But it is hard to jump and savage Brown. The guy does his homework. And he takes more self-inflicted shots than I could ever dream of landing.
"I'll bet you 20 to 25 percent of what I put out there the other night was stuff I really don't believe in," he says, laughing loudly. "It was like sausage making, a discussion starter to feel out my colleagues, to see where they are on this."
The last thing he wants, he said, is to shut down dispensaries.
"We in Denver are pioneers in this area!" Brown says. "There are certainly some in public office, law enforcement and the legislature who want (dispensaries) all shut down. I'm not one of them.
"But I know we have to do something because the federal government could change its mind on enforcement. And I know we, as a city, have a right and the duty to regulate a unregulated business inside our borders."
He says he has visited and chatted with operators of about dozen dispensaries in his district. Most crave the regulation he is calling for. They don't mind, he says, paying the 3.62 percent sales tax he is calling for.
"They want reasonable, rational legislation too. They'll tell you that. They know that some dispensaries are run by drug dealers, stoners. You regulate them, you make them pay taxes, you regulate the stoners right out of business."
He wants, he says, to bring rational change to the dispensary system, what he calls "the wild, wild West" in Denver now.
"I simply want it licensed like every other business in this city. I want it regulated because once you do it, that will legitimize it."
Now that is grown-up talk.
December 4, 2009