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Between a rock and a pot place

We have an interesting situation in Colorado where marijuana is concerned. Mind you, I’m no expert. I’ve never used the stuff, am not sure I’d recognize it in any form other than a growing plant, and have only recently learned to identify the smell, maybe.

However, as I understand it, growing, possessing, or distributing the stuff is a violation of federal law. And yet, in Colorado, state law makes it legal, under certain conditions, to grow, possess, and distribute medical marijuana.

Understandably, a lot of people here are confused. Medical marijuana dispensaries have sprung up all over the place. Some are legal, some are not, depending on, among other things, city and county laws, which vary widely and may or may not have been in effect when the local dispensaries were opened. Some shops were caught in local “moratoriums,” with their licenses approved but their business not yet opened. In any one situation, there are federal, state, and local laws in play. Some of the laws are still in flux; some are currently being challenged in court.

At the other end of the supply line, some doctors and others who can legally prescribe have set up storefront operations (ie, “pain clinics”) just to push out prescriptions for medical marijuana. So there’s a scramble on to pass laws about the doctors having to have an established relationship with a patient before prescribing it.

Now the DEA has busted a man in a Denver suburb for having 225 marijuana plants growing in his house. The charge is possession with intent to distribute; if convicted, he faces a sentence of 5 to 40 years.

According to the Denver Post:

State law allows caregivers to have six marijuana plants per patient. The law says people who have more can show ‘that such greater amounts were medically necessary to address the patient’s debilitating medical condition.’

The man, who of course says he thought he was operating within the law, had fewer than 15 certificates showing he was a caregiver. He may or may not be confused about the letter of the law here, but I certainly am.

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