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Old December 14th, 2009 #1
OTPTT
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Default So Who Wants to Open Up a Medical Marijauna Dispensary?

This could be the answer to many folk's money problems. I could almost be tempted to move to Colorado if I had a partner or two.

Colorado's Green Rush: Medical marijuana

Driving down Broadway, it's easy to forget you are in the United States. Amid the antique stores, bars and fast-food joints occupying nearly every block are some of Denver's newest businesses: medical marijuana dispensaries.

The locals call this thoroughfare "Broadsterdam." As in Amsterdam, Netherlands, these businesses openly advertise their wares, often with signs depicting large green marijuana leaves.

"The American capitalist system is working," said attorney and medical marijuana advocate Rob Corry.
It's a matter of supply and demand.

"The demand has always been there," he said, "and the demand is growing daily because more doctors are willing to do this, and now businesses, entrepreneurs, mom-and-pop shops are cropping up to create a supply."

Colorado voters legalized medical marijuana in 2000. For years, patients could get small amounts from "caregivers," the term for growers and dispensers who could each supply only five patients. In 2007, a court lifted that limit and business boomed.

Between 2000 and 2008, the state issued about 2,000 medical marijuana cards to patients. That number has grown to more than 60,000 in the last year.

State Sen. Chris Romer, a Democrat whose south Denver district includes Broadsterdam, said the state receives more than 900 applications a day.

"It's growing so fast, it's like the old Wild West," Romer said. "This reminds me of 1899 in Cripple Creek, Colorado, when somebody struck gold. Every 49er in the country is making it for Denver to open a medical marijuana dispensary."

They're calling it the Green Rush.

Corry, who has represented defendants in medical marijuana cases for years, is taking a different role: He has formed the Colorado Wellness Association, a trade group representing medical marijuana growers and providers.

"We want to be the Better Business Bureau of marijuana," he said.

On the 28th floor of a downtown building with a great view of the Rocky Mountains, Corry's office is adorned with vintage posters. One reads "Marihuana: Assassin of Youth!"

In the corner sits a plastic 6-foot marijuana plant. It's a prop from the TV show "Weeds," about a suburbanite mother who begins selling marijuana to make extra cash, Corry said.

The lagging economy has created an opening for medical marijuana, Corry said. As governments struggle for new sources of revenue, the prospect of taxing medical marijuana can be enticing.

The dispensaries are "paying taxes, hiring employees, renting out space, purchasing supplies and moving this economy along," he said. "Local governments need to get on the bandwagon and start realizing this is a major source of revenue and it can help us cure our bankrupt governments."

The association aims to get a larger supply of marijuana into the dispensaries and make sure it is safe, Corry said.

See the different ways to use marijuana

"What we're looking at is quality control," he said. "We have the technology to make sure there's no harmful toxins, pesticides."

Bob Winnicki is a 35-year-old analyst and co-owner of Full Spectrum Laboratories, which the wellness association uses for testing.

"We're trying to get away from smelling, texture, color" as a measure of quality cannabis, he said, adding that he prefers "hard analytical data."

Wearing a dress shirt and tie under a white lab coat, Winnicki opens envelopes with samples of marijuana dropped off by growers and dispensers. He puts the marijuana into test tubes and mixes it with a solution to create a greenish liquid. The test tube goes into a machine that performs a chemical analysis.

The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. But Winnicki said it's other, less understood components that may provide much of the claimed medicinal benefits.

Winnicki is not a marijuana user, he said. In July, he took a break from medical school to start the lab because he loves "the science" behind medical marijuana and thinks the market is wide open, he said.

"There's a lot of money to be had in it, and there's a lot of jobs and growth that can come out of it," he said.
Across the city, entrepreneurs are trying to get in on the Green Rush. In a northwest Denver neighborhood, Aaron Randle is tending to his new shop, Sunnyside Alternative Medicine.

He opened in September and said he has about 100 customers so far.

Read about a mother and son who grow marijuana

"I've been an electrician for eight years and before that I had a cable contracting company. It's always been a dream to work for myself," he said. "I'm very passionate about marijuana."

Customers drop by his modest storefront operation and take a seat in a small waiting room. It's no different than a dentist's office except the magazine rack is stuffed with High Times, a publication for marijuana buffs, instead of Sports Illustrated and parenting magazines.

One at a time, customers survey a display case full of marijuana strains as well as marijuana-infused brownies, taffy and lollipops. Maui Waui and Purple Kush are popular strains. It costs $50 for an eighth of an ounce, $54 with tax. Purchases go into a plastic prescription bottle and then into a white bag that reads, "Prescriptions. Thank You!"

Randle proudly displays his business license on the wall.

"There's a lot of jobs created because of medical marijuana," he said. "You have employees that work at the dispensaries, then you have vendors that are getting paid. ... Real estate is booming right now. Warehouses are getting rented out for grow operations."

What Randle calls "vendors" are marijuana growers, a mix of people who operate "grow houses," where the plants are cultivated using elaborate lighting systems, or small-scale farmers who operate in rural areas.

Zack Moore is a grower with a small greenhouse operation in southern Colorado. He also is a medical marijuana patient. A snowboarding accident knocked out his two front teeth, and he smokes marijuana for relief from various aches and pains, he said.

He rolls a joint and lights up before having a seat in a rocking chair in the afternoon sun. With a basket of marijuana in front of him, he uses toenail scissors to trim the dried plants. When he's done, he will have made about $6,000 for six months work, he said.

Though he hopes to do better next season, he's happy to be working.

"I build houses for a living. There's not many houses to be built right now."

Not everyone is happy with the changes the legalization of medical marijuana has brought to the state.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the amendment to the state constitution that allowed the new businesses is flawed.

"Colorado has seen a rapid proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries and patients since the Justice Department earlier this year announced it would not actively prosecute medical marijuana businesses -- despite the fact that marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law," he said in an October statement.

"Amendment 20, written by marijuana-legalization proponents, is very vague. Our state lawmakers must give clarification to Amendment 20 and create a regulatory scheme for the growing medical marijuana industry."

State Sen. Romer concurs. "Right now it's easier to get a medical marijuana license than it is to get a liquor license," he said.

Currently, patients need to see a doctor only one time to get a recommendation that enables them to buy medical marijuana. Patients can choose to pay $90 to file with the state and receive a card identifying them as medical marijuana patients. The cards do not expire.

To become a provider or grower of medical marijuana, entrepreneurs need to have a patient name them as a caregiver when they file for a medical marijuana card.

Romer said he doesn't want to limit legitimately sick people's access to medical marijuana, but he doesn't want to see the state law turned into de facto legalization of marijuana.

"Amendment 20 never dealt with where you got the medical marijuana," he said. "We're going to license the growers and we're going to license the caregivers."

Romer wants to keep marijuana out of the hands of teenagers and hopes to channel some of the revenues into programs to treat substance abuse.

One of the most difficult aspects for lawmakers is how to define true medical need. Romer is keeping an open mind.

"I think you're having a lot of baby boomers who, all of us, are feeling a lot of aches and pains [and] are going to decide to try medical marijuana," he said. "I personally haven't tried it yet, but I'm not saying someday before I'm done I won't."
 
Old December 14th, 2009 #2
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I would be interested in discussion of this topic relative to pros and cons. (No, I don't smoke marijuana.)

Last edited by OTPTT; December 14th, 2009 at 06:09 PM.
 
Old December 14th, 2009 #3
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Ganjapreneurs are cashing in on Colorado's booming medical pot business

I knock on the locked door of the nondescript one-story building not far from downtown, willing away my anxiety.

"Can I help you?" A security guard peers from behind the door, eyeing me suspiciously. He's an older guy, probably somebody's grandpa, but he gives me a look that says he doesn't have a problem tangling with a whippersnapper like me.

"I have an appointment," I stammer. I have Xeroxed medical records and $200 in cash to prove it. At that, the security guard is all smiles.

"Come on in," he offers, opening the door wide and beckoning me into one of Denver's most successful medical marijuana dispensaries.

I'm here to become a state-certified medical marijuana patient. If I succeed, I'll have access to one of the fastest-growing — and unusual — businesses around.

Colorado voters legalized marijuana for medicinal use in 2000 with the passage of Amendment 20, but until recently, the state's medical marijuana community was small and fairly inconspicuous. As of January, 5,000 people had applied to the state registry, and there were less than two dozen dispensaries selling pot.

But that's changed, thanks to the Obama administration's move in March to end most dispensary raids, as well as a Colorado Board of Health decision in July that did nothing to limit the number of patients that medical marijuana dispensaries can have. As of June 30, the Colorado medical marijuana registry had swelled to more than 10,000 applicants, with the state receiving more than 400 new applications each day. To meet that demand, at least seventy Colorado dispensaries have opened, forty in the metro area alone.

Many of these are operated by what insiders are calling a "second wave" of ganjapreneurs — savvy, experienced businesspeople and professionals. Some honed their chops running ventures that have nothing to do with marijuana; others are opportunists from the heady California dispensary scene who see a new market ripe for investment.

In the meantime, legal consultants, insurance companies and real-estate brokers are carving out their own niche, building industry-wide infrastructure for a form of commerce that never before existed.

Whether any of it is truly legal — and whether any of it will last — is anybody's guess, because marijuana, after all, is still illegal under federal law. And although Amendment 20 allows people in Colorado to use pot for medical reasons, the law says nothing about dispensaries or whether buying and selling marijuana at them is legal. ("Growth Industry," February 5.)

"I saw it coming," says Colorado Attorney General John Suthers about the growth of the dispensary industry, of which he disapproves. "Even when we looked at the amendment in 2000, it was very purposely designed, in my opinion, by the advocates so it was so broad you could drive a truck through it."

Cities and towns aren't waiting for Suthers and his colleagues to sort the laws out. To deal with the reality of a business model that isn't going away, one municipality after another is looking into their zoning or planning codes, and some have passed dispensary-specific rules, like where they can be located and what type of signage is allowed.

I'm not waiting, either. Past the security guard, I can see a brightly lit, professional-looking operation. People shuttle paperwork to and fro, chatting and laughing. It's a far cry from a drug-dealing operation — though a familiar smell lingers in the air. No time for second thoughts: I'm already late for my appointment.

I step inside, ready to get medicated.

For Craig Mardick, it's a great day for a grand opening.

The windows of his new business, Golden Alternative Care, are freshly polished, and a spread of complimentary fruit, veggies and dip greets customers just inside the door. Mardick's landlord and insurance agent stop by to congratulate him and his employees. His mom pops in, too, with a freshly framed art poster to hang on the wall.

Mardick has just launched Golden's first marijuana dispensary, and behind a discreet curtain, a glass display case offers marijuana strains with names like Bubble Berry, AK-47 and Pot of Gold, plus an assortment of cannabis-infused edibles.

"I have never seen an economic model like this," he says of his new undertaking. "It's unheard of. Economists don't know how to forecast the industry."

A former medical technician and environmental scientist by trade, Mardick had been laid off from a couple of jobs in the past few years when he got the idea to open a dispensary. A medical marijuana patient himself — he's been diagnosed with a large hiatal hernia, a serious gastrointestinal ailment — he'd been using his botany background to grow medicine for a half-dozen patients.

In February of this year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which oversees the state medical marijuana registry, revealed that it was considering limiting marijuana caregivers to providing for a maximum of five patients — a move that would have put dispensaries out of business, since they need more than five customers to survive.

But at a heavily attended hearing on July 20, the Colorado Board of Health, the advisory board for CDPHE, voted against the proposed limitation. The decision was seen as a tacit endorsement of the dispensary model, and state registrar Ron Hyman says the state has received 6,000 medical marijuana patient applications since then.

continued at link...
 
Old December 14th, 2009 #4
TwistedCross
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Default Group Says Californians Could Vote on Pot in 2010

http://www.kpsplocal2.com/news/local....cspx?rss=2276

Quote:
Group Says Californians Could Vote on Pot in 2010

A group campaigning to put a marijuana legalization measure before California voters says it has enough signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot.

Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee said Monday that the measure had far more than the nearly 434,000 signatures needed to make the November 2010 ballot.

Campaign organizers say they will submit the signatures to the California Secretary of State next month. The office must validate the signatures before the measure can go to voters.

The proposal would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for California adults 21 and older. Residents could cultivate marijuana gardens up to 25 square feet. Local governments would determine whether to permit marijuana sales within their boundaries.
I dont smoke, drink or smoke pot. I have done all of the above at one time in my life or another.

Im all for making it legal. It is far less harmful than drinking and the plant has other uses than smoking the buds. There are old time herbal remedies that call for the use of leaves in poultices for aches and pains and teas to settle the stomach. The plant has many more uses such as bio fuel, building materials, paper, clothing and besides that, it is a pretty plant.

Make it legal to own amounts for use, legal to grow small quantities at home, large quantities as a licensed commercial enterprise and legal to sell from a licensed store. Illegal to sell on the street corner, just as alcohol is treated.
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Old December 15th, 2009 #5
8Man
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.. nice write-up on the marijuana topic at California Officials Target Big Marijuana Growers

L A has over 500 pot shops, but the spic mayor is under some pressure to limit permits for new ones.

see: L A Marijuana Dispensary

Kick the illegal spics out that are tending the 'gardens' and let white people go back to gardening.
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Old December 15th, 2009 #6
Alex Linder
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I'd rather pay taxes to marijuana plants to go around searching for cops.
 
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