Colorado board right to nix pot proposals

Congratulations to the Colorado Board of Health, which did the right thing by rejecting proposed regulations that would have put medical marijuana dealers out of business and deprived thousands of Coloradans the drug they need.

One major component of the regulations would have limited medical marijuana dispensaries to five clients. The proposals alone have held back the establishment of medical marijuana businesses, as entrepreneurs put their plans on hold in anticipation of new regulations. With Monday’s decision, new marijuana dispensaries should begin opening throughout Colorado.

Colorado voters long ago made up their minds on the issue of medical pot, voting in 2000 to approve it with an amendment to the state constitution. The largest medical marijuana dispensary is in Colorado Springs. It, like others, has the right to dispense marijuana to an unlimited number of patients who have prescriptions for the drug.

Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer for the Colorado Health Department, supported the proposed rule changes. Calonge complained about one doctor who recommended 200 people for medical marijuana in a day. He said his staff isn’t prepared to process a large volume of medical marijuana patients signing up for the registry.

In other words, Calonge was not too worried about people in chronic pain — people suffering from cancer, AIDS or glaucoma. He was more concerned about his agency’s ability to cope, so to heck with the fact proposed new regulations would ruin small-business owners and cause patients to suffer.

If the registry is such a concern, Dr. Calonge, why don’t you recommend eliminating it? A patient should not have to register with the state to use a common weed his or her physician recommends.

To abide by the law, medical marijuana sellers and prescribers call themselves “caregivers.” Holly Dodge, a deputy district attorney for the 4th Judicial district, said no “caregiver” could tend to hundreds of patients.

“That’s not caregiving; that’s marijuana growth. That’s distribution,” Dodge said, explaining that she was speaking for DA’s offices throughout Colorado.

Oh, please. Most physicians in this country each see thousands of patients a year, and some prescribe hard pain-killing narcotics — i.e., Vicodin, codeine, Percocet and morphine — as if they were candy. Average pharmacists dispense thousands of prescriptions for hard narcotics in a year, not hundreds. Prosecutors and state health officials should be delighted that some patients can get by with a milder, safer, less physically addictive drug that is easy to grow.

It’s hard to imagine why the Board of Health spent much time at all pondering regulations that flew in the face of the electorate’s clear desire. Fortunately, board members did the right thing and nixed the ridiculous proposals.