November 11 2009, 11:09 AM
If you are dazed and confused by all the legal fighting over Colorado's apparently nebulous law legalizing medical marijuana, you're not alone. The headlines have been a blur in recent weeks. While local politicians are promising crackdowns, fearing a stoners' free-for-all, the courts and state officials are trying to sort out myriad issues and controversies surrounding the tremendous growth of medical marijuana dispensaries of late. Last August, the state Board of Health decided anyone who supplies marijuana to a registered user is qualified to be a "caregiver." The rules seemed simple enough until last month, when the state Court of Appeals seemed to eclipse that rule in a criminal case, concluding that a woman was not qualified to be a caregiver because she provided the drug only and no other health services. That led the Board of Health to reconsider and temporarily accept the court's requirements. There's more: Lawyers got involved, and yesterday Denver District Judge Larry Naves overturned the Board of Health's interim decision, concluding that officials ignored the needs of patients and violated state open-meetings laws in the process (via The Associated Press). So now, medical marijuana providers can go back to slinging pot without offering other services to patients who have a certificate and prescription. Westword talks with Brian Vicente, one of the attorneys who represented medical marijuana patients, after the ruling: "The judge made it very clear the Board of Health needs to cease disenfranchising the public. We hope that at subsequent hearings, they will abide by Colorado law and listen to patients and providers." Eyes are now set on a December 16 Board of Health meeting.