Former Congressman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez at a debate hosted by The Denver Post. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Bob Beauprez: Colorado medical marijuana ‘is being abused’ (video)

How do Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and his opponent Bob Beauprez feel about the state’s ever-expanding base of registered medical marijuana patients?

Denver Post politics editor Chuck Plunkett asked this question to both candidates at a gubernatorial debate hosted by The Denver Post earlier this week: “More than 100,000 Coloradans are presently permitted and avoid extra taxes associated with retail pot. Should the state tighten limits on medical marijuana permit availability?”

“Is that hypocritical?” How did Colo. Gov. Hickenlooper answer this question at The Post debate: “You made your fortune on alcohol sales, yet you’ve been a critic of legalized marijuana. Is that hypocritical?” Watch the video

Hickenlooper answered first, “So this gets into some very delicate territory, but, yes, I think we should. When you have a system with clear rules you need to be very careful that it doesn’t get abused, and there’s a widespread belief that if you look at a relatively small number of doctors are writing the vast majority of prescriptions that are growing very rapidly. The challenge here is that we still have to figure out how to protect and respect the sanctity of the relationship between a patient and his doctor, so it’s not like you can go run willy nilly and say this is a problem and we’re going to dramatically change everything.

“We have endeavored consistently to try and — the tough thing is no one’s ever done this before, so the whole notion of a private recreational marijuana market and we have to make sure that we don’t let the cost, the taxes make it too high, because then it encourages a black market. But certainly we need to tighten up and make sure this abuse doesn’t continue.”

Beauprez offered this answer: “Well, I think anybody who’s just a little bit objective about this understands that it’s being abused right now. It’s being abused intentionally, and it’s being abused at the risk of a whole lot of people in our society. That’s the challenge in front of us. And we’ve now got it in our law, whether we like it or not — and I didn’t like it, for the record.

“But it is the law, and I’ll take an oath to uphold the law and enforce the law, but what we have to do is regulate it as tightly as we can within the law and the understanding of the law. We had a medical marijuana first and now we’ve got Amendment 64 that says it’s supposed to be recreational, but that it’s not supposed to be used in public, but yet we see it used all around town, including out in front of the governor’s office in Civic square park in public.

“That’s not letting law enforcement and that’s not giving the citizens really the support to enforce the law as they passed it. That’s a challenge I think governors and others in elected office have to be willing to accept. It’s a challenge to enforce the law the way it was supposed to be enforced.”

Watch the full debate here.