State’s medical-marijuana forecast: cloudy

Prediction: law will give boost to black-market industry

| Jun 16, 2010

MMJ PANEL: The topic was medical marijuana dispensaries for (l. to r.) Eric Karnes, PLAN Boulder County’s moderator, Laurel Alterman of Altermeds and Kathy Haddock, Acting Boulder City Attorney
The future of Boulder’s MMJ industry remains murky, would be the consensus opinion of the panel at the Friday, June 11, PLAN Boulder County Forum. Boulder County Drug Task Force Commander Tommy Sloan suggested that the new state regulations going into effect were intended to not be onerous, but simply offer tools for police where businesses were non-compliant.

Laurel Alterman, owner of AlterMeds in Louisville, indicated her misgivings about the law, recently signed by Governor Ritter and going into effect July , with certain compliance elements to follow at later times. She noted that growing or “farming” marijuana skill sets were quite different from those that might be used as part of “caregiving” and stated her personal knowledge was all about helping patients, not growing. Yet, the new law requires growers to perform as caregivers and for caregivers to be growing their own product.

Additionally, although individual fees demanded by state or local authorities might be affordable to some, when piled on top of one another, they were too weighty for many of the currently operating businesses to pay.

In response to this reporter’s question, Ms. Alterman affirmed a belief widely held that the new laws would be a shot in the arm to the black market industry in Colorado, a disappointing if unintended consequence for communities hoping to see that aspect of the industry shut down by lawmakers.

Kathy Haddock, Acting Boulder City Attorney, expressed both confidence in the new law and the belief that the city council had a carefully chosen “wellness model” to follow. She did acknowledge that many of the dispensary owners feel a lack of “wellness” would accrue to their businesses under the statute, which requires a minimum $5,000 City of Boulder fee for anyone providing medical marijuana to more than one patient. 

Rob Smoke lives in Boulder with his Maine coon cat Sita (pronounced SEE-ta). Sita is noted for her exploits as campaign manager for Rob’s most recent perennial effort as a candidate for Boulder City Council.