You say petition, I say ...
Let Us Vote COS (letusvotecos.org) is an enigma shrouded in riddles, cloaked in secrecy, and wrapped in really-hard-to-see-through glass.
Or, you know, it seemed that way when we weren't speaking. We've finally broken through to organization leader Steve Wind, to find out how the petition drive is going.
"It's going wonderful," Wind says. "We're optimistic that we can get [a MMJ center ban] on for November — we are."
Though he didn't know signature totals offhand, Wind says the group has "a lot of folks collecting" in places like neighborhoods, churches and, apparently, gun shows.
"Actually, we were at the Sertoma gun show yesterday, and people came up, and they were out before people came in, telling people, 'Don't sign their petition.'
"You know what? That's not right," an upset Wind says. "We are in the United States of America, for crying out loud — we all have the right to petition! And if [MMJ advocates] want to get a petition drive going, and try to collect signatures, well go do that, but don't impinge upon my rights to get petitions, and exercise my First Amendment rights. You know, that's communism!"
We didn't get to ask Tanya Garduno about her feelings on Marx and Engels, but we did ask her about the symbolic petition-gathering going on among advocates.
"The whole goal is to let City Council also know that there really is no need for a vote," says Garduno, president of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council. "We've started our regulations, everything has been moving forward; House Bill 1284 has taken care of a ton of insecurities that people had. We just continue to move forward with that, so there's no need for a vote.
"We can say, 'Look, all these are Colorado Springs registered voters.' I know it's not through the formal process, but, 'Look, we've got more than enough signatures to show that it's not what the public wants — it's a waste of time.'"
On the receiving end
Create, from scratch, the infrastructure to regulate a brand-new industry that includes roughly 105,000 customers, with nothing to draw on but experience. Do it quickly. Do it with no staff or office supplies.
"Well, we're working to get the staff," says Matt Cook, senior director of enforcement for the Colorado Department of Revenue, also known as the man responsible for creating new regulations, educating an industry on them, training staff for enforcement of them and, maybe, sleeping?
"Well, I sleep very good, 'cause I'm real tired at the end of the day," he says.
Cook brings 30 years of experience — and previous time working in Colorado Springs — to his oversight of medical cannabis, which is just one of the department's lines of business. It's also responsible for overseeing the gaming industry, alcohol and tobacco enforcement, dog and horse racing, and car dealerships.
An Aug. 1 deadline looms for MMJ centers, but the senior director estimates that as of Monday, fewer than 10 applications have been returned. Each one generates anywhere between $7,500 and $18,000 in fees for the state. The DOR is waiting to see how many dispensaries are still standing before hiring its territorial inspectors who will make regular visits, educating center owners along the way. Their web-accessible video cameras will constantly monitor the interior of each location.
At the end of the day, Cook says, the job is the job: "We're regulators, regardless of whether it's marbles and chalk, or alcohol, beverage or gaming, or a Schedule I controlled substance."
• In an e-mail, owner David Schiller says he's "very excited" to introduce a new facet to the repertoire at All Good Care Center (329 E. Pikes Peak Ave., allgoodcarecenter.com): an infused products kitchen.
"It's all food, real food. No desserts, candies [or] brownies," writes Schiller. "We are concentrating on food such as chicken pot pies, pizza, chicken wings, Italian dinners, burritos. Basically you will be able to pick up these frozen foods at selected 'centers' as well as All Good Care Center. Other 'centers' can come by the kitchen, enter a contract and pick up whatever they choose as well."
• According to the Wall Street Journal, on April 1 the U.S. Patent and Trademark office began accepting applications under a new category: "Processed plant matter for medicinal purposes, namely medical marijuana." The department saw more than 250 requests, like those from Colorado-based Panatella Brands, to trademark names like "Chronic," "Maui Wowie" and "Mellow Yellow," among others.
After receiving inquiries from a WSJ reporter, the patent office killed the three-month-old category and returned to its normal process of accepting marijuana-related trademark applications without a specific category.
"It raises examination issues," spokesman Peter Pappas told the newspaper. "It was a mistake and we have removed it."
• As of Thursday, July 22, it's been 72 days since seven local grows were searched at taxpayer cost, and still no charges have been filed by the District Attorney's office. Spokeswoman Kathleen Walsh says the overseeing attorney is currently occupied with a murder case.
Send MMJ news to firstname.lastname@example.org.