You could find virtually anything marijuana-related at last week's inaugural Rocky Mountain Cannabis Convention and Wellness Expo at the Colorado Convention Center. Except, that is, for attendees.
Though final attendance was unavailable as of deadline, Colorado Springs expo liaison Alice Foster says, "It's not as high as we would have liked it to have been."
Still, the event designed to "[promote] the respectable and responsible use of marijuana as medicine," as explained at rmccdenver.com, was a riot of MMJ material: literature for, and computer demonstrations by, laboratories doing THC-content testing; security professionals hawking the latest in content protection; and the sale of every device imaginable to get marijuana from the ground into your body.
It also drew its fair share of less-industry-related folks looking to benefit from the green rush, like marketing consultant Rebel Kidder, whose "Buds for Boobs" team is walking in support of breast cancer.
"Since, of course in Colorado, the medical marijuana movement is absolutely out of control, and a lot of the medical marijuana is used for cancer patients, we thought that women definitely shouldn't be left out of being able to use that for ..."
She was then interrupted by someone yelling supportive noises regarding both boobs and buds.
Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kinsey — and his shouted tagline, "That's crazy!" — made an appearance. Kinsey says he supports sustainable agriculture, gay marriage rights and, yes, MMJ.
"You know, everybody's trying to get in on this act. ... There's some in the state who want to tax the weed to pay for the deficit," he says. "And the high licensing costs for the dispensaries — what's that about, but to pay for regulation and whatever else the state's in debt for? And there's even some wolves in sheep's clothing who are wanting to regulate your businesses out of business, your dispensaries out of dispensing."
The expo also heard from other industry heavyweights: attorneys Warren Edson and Jessica and Rob Corry, SAFER director Mason Tvert, and "Professor Marijuana," grower Dana K. May.
Pueblo decides: No ban
On Monday, Pueblo City Council chose not to refer a medical marijuana center ban to the citizens, voting 4-3 to instead let city planning and zoning create a licensing system before July 2011.
At-Large Councilor Steve Nawrocki says he chose not to refer a ban to the voters based on his belief that the city could better control the distribution of MMJ through centers, as opposed to the caregiver system that would still exist even with a ban.
"What I looked at as being kind of a concern, [is] that we have difficulty zoning the patients and the caregivers — in terms of where they can grow it," Nawrocki says. "But we don't have difficulty in zoning for a medical marijuana center, where I feel we might be able to have more control over what takes place in that type of facility than what we have with a shotgun approach of marijuana growing all over our city."
Council also voted 6-1 in favor of adding a further 4.3-percent tax to medical marijuana, as well as any related paraphernalia.
Don't be my Valentine
Our July 1 issue of ReLeaf drew criticism of an advertisement from Valentine Jewelers (valentinejewelers.net) that read, "Can't afford your meds? We buy gold, precious metals, gemstones & silverwear [sic]."
Heather Witting, who says she's a sales rep for an infused products company, wrote in a letter to the editor:
"First of all, this is medicine. I am an MMJ patient myself, and have found MMJ to be my saving grace. No more harmful pharmaceuticals contaminating and damaging this body. I am an educated professional, and a mother of three.
"Many of the patients out there are just like me. I am not a junkie, and neither are they. We are not looking for our next 'fix,' willing to steal our mother's silverware to hawk it for 'drugs.' I take personal offense to your inference, as I am certain many others did when they read your ad."
Though calls to Valentine Jewelers have gone unreturned, its website does say that the company wants to "assist you so that the decision you make is right for your special circumstances. We stress this because everybody's situation is never the same."
Either way, said Witting in a later phone conversation, the advertising tone needs to change.
"I can tell you that talking with people in the industry — as I do all day long, every day — that I'm not the only one with that sentiment," she says.
• Monday's City Council meeting was the first chance for city leaders to sound off regarding high MMJ business registrant numbers. And while you might expect the loudest grumbling from Darryl Glenn or Scott Hente, instead Tom Gallagher — he of the MMJ task force — took that honor: "It was never my intention," he said, "to open this up and make it the Wild West."
Though registration is complete, the city is still waiting for a green light from the state before taking the next step of licensing.
• Denver's 9NEWS reports that the Colorado Legislature has authorized an additional $2 million to be spent hiring 56 temporary workers to process an MMJ application backlog of roughly 63,000.
"The department expects to receive 150,000 new medical marijuana applications a year," the report says.
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