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Home / Articles / Views / Letters /  Letters | The war on dispensaries
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Thursday, April 29,2010

Letters | The war on dispensaries

The war on dispensaries

I remember about a year ago Sen. Chris Romer started courting the local dispensaries and medical marijuana organizations under the ruse that he was going to “pass reasonable legislation to legitimize our growing industry.” As we listened to his proposals, it became clear that his only concern was to make a name for himself as “the one who would tame the Wild West” and his concern for the patient or local industry was a deception to further his political goals. His voiced disdain for the “Wild West” makes him more of an embarrassment to Colorado than a representative of Colorado.

As local dispensaries and others, such as American Medical Marijuana Standards Association (AMMSA) President Larry Hill, met with Sen. Romer, it became clear the senator wanted us to sharpen the knife he planned to stab us in the back with. We tried to explain to him that this industry was quite capable of developing its own regulatory standards for the protection of the patient and the public at large, but Sen. Romer had other ideas — every transaction videotaped; card-swipe technology into a central database recording every transaction; a police investigation of any patient purchasing more that two ounces per week.

Local organizations and dispensaries soon had to distance themselves from the senator to maintain their own integrity. About this time the senator picked up another group of friends to “play” with — California dispensaries. Sen. Romer continues to add as much startup cost to opening a dispensary as he can, his latest proposal a $50,000 dispensary license.

The California chain dispensaries are his most ardent supporters. Support for his proposals at the local level, whether patient or dispensary, is virtually nonexistent.

From Sen. Romer’s own remarks his intent is easy to ascertain: “I plan to reduce the number of dispensaries in Colorado by 50 percent within a year.”

Did you know that 50 percent of the dispensaries in Colorado are California chains? Vincent Carroll’s March 26 article in The Denver Post indicates which 50 percent the senator would like to get rid of: “Romer remains committed to regulatory standards that squeeze out what he calls [a] ‘knucklehead’ dispensary model run by people with no expertise and not enough capital.”

It is sad that he views his own constituents as “knuckleheads without enough capital.” It is the working poor who put him into office.

Later on, Mr. Carroll’s article states:

“He foresees dispensaries as sophisticated ‘wellness’ centers regulated as thorsee oughly as casinos, where every transaction is videotaped.”

Every transaction videotaped? Ever heard of HIPAA or the Fourth Amendment, Sen. Romer?

“Sophisticated wellness centers” is code for “huge start-up expenses.” This “sophistication” he has proposed includes requiring that 90 percent of a dispensary’s medicine be grown on site. So your building store front and grow operation would cost $5,000 to $10,000 a month alone.

It is crystal clear what you are trying to pull, Sen. Romer. Mom and Pop, the working poor and the rest of us knucklehead riffraff can go to hell, while you pursue your Walgreens, Wal-Mart and Wall Street version of “sophisticated wellness centers.”

Colorado medical marijuana dispensary owner

Editor’s note: Boulder Weekly rarely agrees to publish a letter to the editor anonymously. In this case, the author of the letter felt that he and his business would be targeted if this letter could be attributed to him. Given the current political climate, we agreed to run the letter anonymously, after confirming his identity.

Pot at the Tea Party

(Re: “Pot at the Tea Party,” Danish Plan, April 22.) Tea Partyers who truly believe in liberty and limited government oppose the war on some drugs.

The drug war is in large part a war on marijuana, by far the most popular illicit drug. Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably as a deterrent. Lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than any European Union country, yet America is one of the few Western countries that still criminalize citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco.

The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to many Americans. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, government is subsidizing organized crime. The drug war’s distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand causes big money to grow on little trees. The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who’ve built careers confusing drug prohibition’s collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant. The big losers in this battle are the taxpayers, who have been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to nontraditional consensual vices.

Robert Sharpe, Common Sense for Drug Policy/ Washington, D.C.

A lot of earnest verbiage has gone into analyzing the so-called “tea party,” most of it fatuous and overwrought. The Democrats are expected to quake at the prospect of losing many current incumbents to this motley rabble of angry voters.

The tea party’s inchoate anti-government sentiments do play into the hands of corporate oligarchs, who stand to benefit from whatever political influence the tea party’s “agenda” may have in Washington. This is why, of course, the GOP spin machine plays them up for all they’re worth. And this is why the left smells a whiff of fascism in the political air.

Still, the tea-party phenomenon will likely dissipate after November’s elections, in which the Dems will probably comfortably prevail. What local commentator Paul Danish likes to call the “marijuana party” is actually larger than the tea party and better represents the generally progressive inclinations of most Americans, especially the younger generations.

In truth, the over-hyped tea party “movement” is rather shallow and largely media-driven. It’s manipulated by cynical GOP operatives, who are so desperate to be relevant that they resort to exploiting these na´ve populists, just as they did the now dispirited Evangelical movement.

The tea partyers aren’t fascists themselves; they’re simply dupes of the very system they say they oppose.

Cord MacGuire/Boulder

Danish does a nice job of trying to get the Tea Partyers to back pot legalization, but continues to dodge the most basic question about health insurance: When people opt not to have health insurance, then get sick or have an accident and can’t afford to pay for it, who pays?

Unless you’re willing to let your fellow citizens bleed to death outside of locked hospital doors, then you agree that we, as a society, should cover the costs. Which is what we do now. So we have this huge and growing societal cost, which is made worse by the fact that people without insurance don’t get help until their conditions are serious and expensive. Obama has come up with a way to control and reduce this cost, and Danish shoots it down without telling us how he would pay for the tab of uninsured sick people. And don’t tell us the free market will take care of it, because it’s had multiple decades to get it right and hasn’t.

Brian Sherwin/San Diego, Calif.

Silence equals death

On April 5, the Daily Camera reported, “Timothy Leifield, wellknown for his work on behalf of Boulder’s nonprofit and gay communities, died last Tuesday at his Boulder home. He was 55.”

In fact, no one really knows for sure what day Tim Leifield died. He was found dead in his home on Saturday, April 4, and, presumably, the coroner estimated his day of death to have been the previous Tuesday. He left an extensive suicide letter, widely shared on the Internet, which is probably why “no foul play is suspected.”

The Daily Camera chose to not report the death as a suicide, presumably in deference to the wishes of his friends and family, and instead described him as “the life of the party,” in the words of a “longtime friend.”

This is an ironic deceit. It harkens back to the days when young men died from complications due to AIDS and newspapers censored this information in deference to the wishes of friends and family. The irony is that Tim dedicated his life to bringing AIDS out of the closet, encouraging its open confrontation as director of the Boulder County AIDS Project and STOP AIDS NOW.

Furthermore, Tim’s long suicide letter expressed no shame in his decision to kill himself, nor any admonishment to sweep this under the rug. His only admonishment is to “be kind, be kind, be kind.”

But then there’s the question of what is truly kind. An immediate impulse is to shield one’s friend from the cruel, gossipy world (Was he gay? Did he have AIDS? Is he mentally ill? Did he commit suicide?).

But in doing so one creates the implication that what this person is, or has, or did, is shameful — something unspoken.

There are two problems: First is the violence visited upon the individual deemed to be shameful, whether for homosexuality (me and Tim), or mental illness and suicide (Tim), or AIDS.

Tim expressed no shame in his mental illness or in his decision to commit suicide. Treatment did not work, ultimately, for Tim. But it does work for millions of other Americans who suffer from mental illness, including tens of thousands who have suffered severe trauma serving our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Second is the stigma impressed upon everyone else.

Let’s say you read that a 55-year-old just happened to have died, suddenly, cause unknown. And then you learn through the grapevine or Internet that this was not so much a mysterious death as a suicide, brought on by a lifetime of struggling with a bipolar disorder. The message I receive is that suicide is shameful. Ditto mental illness.

That is exactly the message people inferred 25 years ago about AIDS or 50 years ago about homosexuality. In the words of the early AIDS movement, which Tim championed, “Silence = Death.”

Rick Cendo/via Internet

Editor’s note: Boulder Weekly consulted with Leifield’s family before running this letter.

Boulder Weekly welcomes your e-mail correspondence. Letters must not exceed 400 words and should include your name, address and telephone number for verification. Addresses will not be published. We do not publish anonymous letters or those signed with pseudonyms. Letters become the property of Boulder Weekly and will be published on our website. Send letters to: letters@boulderweekly.com. Look for Boulder Weekly on the World Wide Web at: www.boulderweekly.com.
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