There were cries of "marijuana power" at the west steps of the capitol building Thursday afternoon. It was a civilized but earnest protest rally dedicated to sending a message inside to legislators considering state regulation of Colorado's medical marijuana industry.
Inside the old supreme court chambers, voices were trying to be heard over a grossly inadequate sound system with wild west acoustics. It was standing room only for hearings regarding House Bill 1284 (Rep Tom Massey). The future of the medical marijuana dispensary business was the order of business.
Outside, on the steps, the case was being made for straight ahead legalization - an end to prohibition for recreational use. There were about thirty people on the steps - about the same number in the crowd. No one speaking from the west steps seemed to like HB 1284 very much. "It's too restrictive". "The patients are not being considered". Everybody had dressed nicely for the hearings so, eventually, they moved inside to state their cases.
Inside, a woman named Lily, apparently blind with a terminal degenerative disease - was the first to offer comments. She told the panel that she and several of her aging or dying friends were concerned about losing their federal disability benefits if they obtained cards and could therefore be publicly identified as cannabis users. She and her friends needed their Medicare and social security disability benefits - as well as the cannabis. She seemed to be asking the committee to produce a bill which would require the State of Colorado to protect her and her friends from the federal government.
Considering the behavior of the local office of the DEA lately, Lily's concerns seem reasonable.
A raid, seizure and arrest of a medical marijuana caregiver three weeks ago at a home in Centennial and subsequent comments from local Drug Enforcement agents seem to have prompted state lawmakers to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to stop raids of medical marijuana operations.
According to CBS4denver, an official e-mail from a group of lawmakers, including Sen Chris Romer and Sen Nancy Spence, Rep Tom Massey and Rep Beth McCann, was sent today to Eric Holder as a follow up to a letter sent last week. "The lawmakers say the raids are discouraging dispensary operators" and is making operators, growers and patients reluctant to work with them on the proposed legislation.
U.S. Congressman Jared Polis also was very strong in a letter to the Attorney General protesting federal interference in Colorado's medical marijuana industry on Feb 24.
If state lawmakers are going to be sending out letters to the feds from time to time, they might as well put the Social Security Administration and Medicare on the mailing list. Lily and her friends could use the help.