(Marcel van Hoorn, AFP/Getty Images file)

Colorado Cannabis Chamber wants more regulations on pot caregivers

It can’t be often that a chamber of commerce calls for more regulations, but that happened Tuesday when the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce threw its weight behind legislation to clamp down on people growing medical marijuana.

Senate Bill 14 — sponsored by Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont — would require marijuana caregivers to register and get a license from the state. That would help law enforcement know who is a growing only the amount authorized for the number of patients they have and who’s breaking the law. The bill also would require caregivers to tell their patients of possible contaminants, so the users have informed consent on what they’re using.

“Our caregivers system is being abused across Colorado as a means of avoiding proper licenses or abiding by the same regulations as the rest of the cannabis industry,” Tyler Henson, the president of the chamber, said in a statement.

Editorial: Colorado medical marijuana rules should match recreational

The bill was introduced on the first day of the session, Jan. 7. and it awaits a hearing in the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee.

The chamber explained that the rationale of the caregivers system is it allows medical marijuana patients who can’t grow their own pot to find a person who can grow it for them. Many caregivers grow for multiple patients at once, which makes it efficient.

But what that has resulted in, the chamber said, is growers yielding hundreds of plants per harvest without the same licensing or oversight as commercial grow operations. As a result, the pot that’s grown for medicine doesn’t have the same safety regulations or industry standards as its recreational counterpart.

The chamber cited the case of an Avondale man who was arrested last week for allegedly growing 600 plants when he had only enough patients to grow 75. He also had about 100 pounds of dried pot, investigators said.

“Unfortunately, when things like this happen, it is the licensed and regulated industry that often takes the blame,” Henson said.

He prefaced that by saying, “Colorado needs to address the lack of regulatory oversight that encourages illicit activity and puts a stain on the licensed community.”

The summary of the bill states:

The bill requires the Colorado medical board to adopt rules regarding guidelines for physicians who make medical marijuana recommendations for patients suffering from severe pain.

The bill requires the state health agency to adopt rules regarding guidelines for primary caregivers to give informed consent to patients that the products they cultivate or produce may contain contaminants and that the THC levels are not verified.

The bill requires all primary caregivers to register with the state health agency and the state medical marijuana licensing authority (licensing authority). Any primary caregiver who is not registered shall register within 10 days of being informed of the duty to register. If a person fails to register after such 10 days, the state health agency and licensing authority shall prohibit the person from ever registering and acting as a primary caregiver.

The bill requires the licensing authority and the state health agency to share the minimum amount of information necessary to ensure that a medical marijuana patient has only one caregiver and is not using a primary caregiver and a medical marijuana center.

The bill permits moneys in the marijuana tax fund to be used to fund the implementation of any bills approved by the marijuana revenues interim committee.

This story was first published on The Spot.