Medical marijuana has been a controversial subject for several years now in Colorado Springs. There are over 450 shops across the city. You can drive down any main street within 5 miles of downtown and see a medical marijuana sign or shop on nearly every corner. They even have the people dressed up with signs luring customers into their shop. Part of these are grow operations and the rest are distributors. Colorado is one of the fastest growing medical marijuana states in the country.
According to the Denver Westword Blog, “As of this month, about 105,000 people have applied to the registry for cards — which amounts to roughly 2 percent of the state’s population. To put it another way, the number of would-be medical marijuana patients in Colorado now exceeds the total population of Pueblo — and it’s significantly higher than the percentage of Coloradans who identify themselves as American Indian. Still, only a fraction of those Coloradans have received their official medical marijuana ID cards: 32,000 in 2010, Hyman says, with a backlog of 73,000 people whose applications are still being processed.”(Denver Westword Blog June 2010)
This is a staggering number of people to be patients. Never before has there been a drug that warranted so much attention and so much demand. Everybody with any type of pain, sickness, ache or symptom is lining up for a card to legally smoke marijuana. There are over 900 physicians across the state who have signed up to be the first observer and approval for potential medical marijuana patients. They examine them and make a determination on their need of this popular and useful drug.
Some of the conditions that may warrant the use of medical marijuana are cancer, glaucoma, severe pain, severe nausea, epilepsy/seizures, cachexia, HIV or AIDS and muscle spasms. The application has to be filled out by a doctor verifying one of these issues. There is a $90 fee that goes with the application as well as the fee for the doctor, which is not covered by insurance. The fee for the State is not negotiable nor can you make installment payments. The current waiting period for getting your card, that enables access to the many available shops is about 6 months. If you need it before then, you are probably out of luck. The backlog in the state is not getting any better, though they have hired more help to process the applications.
Many people in Colorado Springs are not just accepting the medical marijuana decision. Organizations like Save Our Society.org is one of a group of folks not happy with all of the marijuana operations in the city. I contacted Amy Ronshausen from S.O.S. and I reviewed their website. I felt as though some of the things stated there, were misleading. It seemed that all of the statistics they quote are from incidences in California. All of the examples she sent were directly related to medical marijuana businesses in California. In those statistics, the crime rate and the violence associated with the medical shops is real. Does that translate into trouble here in Colorado Springs? I am not sure.
Amy told me, “Save Our Society From Drugs, (S.O.S) has over ten years of experience in monitoring and making policy recommendations on drug policy issues including those pertaining to marijuana as a so-called medicine. We have worked with many cities and states to help close the loopholes that often exist with programs. S.O.S. takes a comprehensive approach to promote sound drug policy that includes educations, prevention, abstinence-based treatment, scientific research, and community awareness. Our members include doctors, researchers, law enforcement officials, business leaders, lawyers and parents, just to name a few.”
She also told me, “With little research I found that currently there are at least 16 cities or counties in CO that have banned marijuana dispensaries, three including El Paso County that will bring this issue to voters in November and 22 that have placed moratoriums on pot shops. Clearly the issue is a hot topic and communities are concerned about what the marijuana industry Is bringing to their towns.
No matter which side you are on in this huge issue, the tempers are running hot and both sides are passionate about their arguments to do what they call the “right thing.” Though the medical marijuana issue may pass in November, it will continue to be a Federal Crime in Colorado to possess marijuana in any form.
This will not change until there is a National change on this subject. In the states that have medical marijuana already or are trying to get it passed, the controversy will not be over any time soon. The people who believe it is a “gateway” drug and causes more crime than usual in cities will continue to fight it on every turn. The people who use it or support it will continue to talk and hope people will listen.
In Colorado Springs, if they decide in November to ban the medical pot shops again, the city and state will still come out winners. Thousands of dollars in fees and licenses will stay in the city and state bank accounts, no matter what voters decide. If the shops have to close, they will just lose their money for those fees and licenses, as well as money to open their shops and supply them.