Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"Don't Californicate Colorado"--oops, too late!

"Don't Californicate Colorado"--that was a bumper sticker you would see now and then when I was growing up in Denver 40 (and more) years ago. Back then we were concerned about things like increased smog, traffic, population--and yes, all of that has been happening in Denver incrementally over the years. But I think we can now say, officially, that Colorado definitely has been Californicated. "Denver May Be Pot Capital, U.S.A." said a headline in the Denver Post last Sunday. What?

In 2000, Colorado voters passed the state constitution's Amendement 20, legalizing medical marijuana (I really want to put ironic quotes around "medical" but I'll refrain). Then in 2005, Denver voted to legalize marijuana possession. Bruce Mirkin, who was the spokesman at the time for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., said, [The new law] is likely to energize people. This is the wind in the sails of reform. Rethinking marijuana prohibition is mainstream. This is the heart of America saying, 'Hold on, maybe our current marijuana laws don't make a lot of sense.'" "And the fact is," Mirkin concluded, "they're right."

Flash forward to 2010, five years later, where the lead in another Denver Post story tells its readers, "Denver now appears to have more marijuana dispensaries than liquor stores, Starbucks coffee shops, or public schools [that's or, not and], according to city and corporate records." As of last week, Denver had issued more than 300 sales-tax licenses for the dope shops. It seems that the 2000 amendment created a patient registry but didn't specify how the system of "caregivers" (I have no problem with the ironic quotes on that one) would be set up. "As a result," writes Christopher N. Osher in the Post, "dispensaries have cropped up across the state, offering medical marijuana with little or no regulation or zoning."

Now, after the fact, the Denver City Council in their great wisdom has evidently decided that having a strip mall full of these "dispensaries" (don't you love that language) or allowing them to sell their dope near schools or day care centers might be a problem, so they've gotten busy "grappling" with new restrictions, one of which would be a ban of on-site consumption of medical marijuana at dispensaries. In other words, drug dens may no longer be allowed. Wow, that's a relief. Even the Leftist Denver Post has gotten into the act, calling in an editorial for "clarification" of the role of "pot providers."

While we've advocated for the state legislature to regulate the growing industry in some way, the longer the council waits, the more difficult it will be to get a handle on the dispensaries popping up everywhere. Do ya think? The Post's editorial encourages the Colorado legislators to "spell out" what they mean "in keeping with the spirit and letter of the amendment." Evidently the language of the amendment didn't even include the word "dispensary." The original idea in the 2000 amendment evidently was a "a small-time, personal effort to quell, say, the effects of cancer or glaucoma." Instead Colorado voters seem to have gotten something very different than what they thought they were voting for (oh my, where have we ever seen that before?).

According to a website with the precious name, (not to be confused with the alternate website,, Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; chronic nervous system disorders; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea. Doesn't everybody "feel pain"? And I can work up a good subjective case of nausea just by thinking about what Obama is doing on any given day. Who's going to tell me I'm not nauseated? Of course I am. So now I'm a perfect candidate for MM (keep up--that's what we all in the know call medical marijuana). Pictured at left is a Denver Dope Shop. Gee, I'd sure like a few of those in my neighborhood. [Question of the day: Are these new Dope Dens part of Obama's "created or saved" job stats?] My insider reporter on this issue says that about 15 doctors are responsible for writing 75% of the MM authorizations in Denver, with no limit to the amount you can purchase, and you renew your "prescription" once a year. Fifteen minutes with the quack physician and $195.00 will get you started. No background checks and no previous medical history required. Then take your paperwork to the "dispensary," hand it over, and they buzz you into the back. Doper heaven.

Westword, a Denver news blog, has an article about marijuana dispensaries that have been set up around the state: "Mile Highs and Lows: Medicine Man, LLC. As Colorado's medical-marijuana industry grows, marijuana dispensaries of all types and sizes are proliferating around the state. Some resemble swanky bars or sterile dentist offices; others feel like a dope dealer's college dorm room. The first dispensary reviewed is one in Breckenridge (that's "Breck" for you uninitiated,a ski resort town); Medicine Man LLC will be found in a pink gingerbread-style office building on Breck's adorable Main Street. Oh happy day, "Breck" is ringing in the 2010 New Year by decriminalizing pot. Great news for all you midwesterners who trek out to Colorado to for your once-a-year obscenely expensive ski vacation; now you can look forward to some jerk bombing straight for you (or one of your kids) down the mountain, stoned out of his or her ever-loving mind on a Rocky Mountain (legal) High. (Rocky Mountain High--that's so precious. Aren't you people in Colorado SICK OF IT?)

I'm a Denver native who moved away to the midwest about 20 years ago. People here ask me (more when I first moved here, less now since I now usually just say I'm from Missouri), "Oooh, you're from Colorahdo. Don't you miss it?" Are you kidding me? I still have familly there, so I return there sort of regularly. I miss my old South Denver neighborhood that I grew up in, and I enjoy walking the length of Harvard Gulch walkway that, thanks to a visionary Denver city planner named Saco DeBoer connects many small parks--a very pleasant walk. Denver is also a great biking town, which my town is not. It has some really wonderful neighborhoods if you can get through the obscenely nasty traffic to get to them. It used to have good schools, but like everywhere else, I think those are getting worse all the time (see my post about South High School which now apparently allows kids to graduate WITHOUT KNOWING ENGLISH). Cripes--but I digress. Now our "visionary" Denver planners plan dope dens. Fabulous. I hate living in this decade. We are going to go down as the laughing-stock slacker numbskulls of history.

So if you live someplace now where the legislature wants to decriminalize marijuana, you might want to keep in mind what's been going on in Denver for the past decade. However, my guess is that what's going on there will soon be the norm in this country if it isn't already. And then we can expect the Leftists to come around with their hands out, demanding more taxes to take care of these "poor screwed-up potheads" who live under bridges because the pot has sapped their drive to do anything useful with their lives. We'll keep an eye on Denver and see how it goes.

P.S. h/t to my brother who still lives there and who tipped me off to MM, Denver style.

Here's my question: Why can't Leftists just be honest about what they want. Put "Legalize Marijuana" on the ballot. Vote it up or down. Live with the result.

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