May 12 2010, 10:34 AM
Democratic state lawmakers haven't won a lot of friends in the business world this year. First, they successfully pushed to remove some tax breaks against the wishes of many business leaders. Now, Democrats' policies are even being blamed for potentially killing one of the strangest bright spots during the recession: the medical marijuana business. Regulators expect about half of the state's 1,100 medical marijuana dispensaries to continue operating under new rules passed by the legislature, but many smaller dispensaries will be unable to afford new sky-high application fees, according to CBS4. Under a bill passed Tuesday, dispensary owners would also face criminal background checks and dispensaries would be required to grow 70 percent of the marijuana they sell, among myriad other provisions, including one that allows local communities to ban dispensaries outright. Governor Bill Ritter indicates to 9News that he will sign House Bill 1284, which passed on a 46-19 vote in the House. Lawyers opposed to the legislation say they are ready to challenge some of the provisions in court if necessary. "The less wellness centers or dispensaries there are, the less convenient access patients have to medicine," says Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado.