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More Pot Talk at State Capitol

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With just two weeks left in the legislative session, state lawmakers continue to struggle with what to do about the state’s booming medical marijuana industry. While a crackdown may still be in the works for shady doctors who seem to write medical marijuana prescriptions on a whim, the bigger issue is how—or whether—to regulate the dispensaries that provide cannabis to patients, according to The Associated Press.

Under House Bill 1284 sponsored by state Senator Chris Romer, a Denver Democrat, owners would have to undergo criminal background checks and grow in-house a majority of the marijuana they sell. “My intention is to get the thugs and the knuckleheads out of the business,” says Romer, who wants to make fees for dispensary license applications cost from $10,000 to $35,000, depending on size. He’d also like to see people under 21 banned from entering dispensaries.

A group of Republican lawmakers wants to ask voters if they would ban dispensaries altogether. There’s a definite mood against the industry. The Denver Post, in a dour editorial, writes that the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2000 was “never intended to create the widespread marijuana dispensary system we have today” and urges lawmakers not to do anything to legitimize the industry.

Greg Campbell, who is writing a book on the subject and blogging at dscriber, notes that the Cannabis Therapy Institute, a lobbying and outreach organization, will oppose the bill it dubs a “monstrosity” aimed at destroying the industry. A hearing will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the state capitol, with marijuana advocates engaging in a lobbying effort beforehand, meeting in the Capitol Building’s cafeteria at 11 a.m.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has again chimed in on the matter, stating that it does not want feds to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws (via AP).

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