Care and snare

People who don't get enough to eat — know what they hate?

Food. That is to say, food donated by a controversial company. A packed, full-size pickup truck full of food.

They hate that crap.

Or you'd think so, based on the trouble Woodland Park's Comfort Care Centers (1750 E. U.S. Hwy 24., pikespeakcomfortcarecenters.com) has had with its donation drive.

Let's back up a little. Comfort Care recently began planning a benefit, hoping to raise money to pay its licensing fees. Inspired by its work with indigent patients, and likely thinking of burnishing the center's community credit, a food drive was added to the fundraising efforts.

The center called Divide's Little Chapel of the Hills, hoping to partner up. "And they were all excited, until we told them who we were. Then they hung up," says Comfort Care general manager Jamie Leitner.

Next, Comfort Care called the Woodland Park Community Cupboard. The nonprofit was more receptive, bringing the dispensary fliers and food receptacles. Comfort Care then ran an ad in the Mountain Jackpot to promote the supposedly co-sponsored benefit.

But publicity for the alliance apparently spooked Community Cupboard, which pulled out of the donation agreement.

Of course, Comfort Care by now had $2,500 in collected food. So the dispensary tried Cripple Creek's Aspen Mine Center, going so far as to unload the food into its pantry. However, once Center coordinator Ted Borden — the only person to return our calls — learned of the donation, he told them to pack it all back up, citing community-perception concerns similar to Community Cupboard's.

"When I talked with the guy that was helping unload, he said there truly were a lot of great food items — it was a pretty significant donation. And I certainly would never want people to think that we wouldn't take donations," Borden says. "What I was concerned about was taking a donation, and then having a lot of strings attached to the donation that was going to somehow question the integrity of our nonprofit."

Leitner says no advertising was needed, as the food was already collected. She adds that Borden never made that issue known.

"And what do they think we did — inject it with medical marijuana stuff, or something?" she says. "I just don't really understand what the problem is."

Either way, stymied, Comfort Care has been giving the food away itself to anyone who asks, with half left as of Tuesday.

Living to fight another day

The Denver Post reports that according to preliminary numbers, 717 medical marijuana center, 271 infused-product and 1,071 grow facility applications were received by the Colorado Department of Revenue in response to the state Legislature-imposed Aug. 1 deadline.

Roughly $7 million was collected in fees, which Matt Cook, senior director of enforcement, has previously said will all go toward regulatory infrastructure.

Before the first state-approved regulatory deadline kicked in July 1, Cook estimated the state was home to 1,100 MMCs; with at least 717 still around today, the industry appears to be bucking Sen. Chris Romer's expected closure rate of 50 to 80 percent. That said, a Sept. 1 deadline to grow 70 percent of product in-house looms.

A preliminary local count was unavailable. Final numbers await the department's receipt of all mailed applications.

Valentine's say

The July 15 "CannaBiz" included a protestation from patient Heather Witting regarding an ad that Valentine Jewelers (1020 S. Tejon St., valentinejewelers.net) ran in our most recent issue of ReLeaf. In it, the business offered to purchase patients' precious metals, to help those patients afford medication.

"I take personal offense to your inference, as I am certain many others did when they read your ad," said Witting.

Though owner Judith Valentine was unavailable at the time, we later spoke on the phone.

"We believe in our constitutional rights, and we believe that people should be able to make a choice as to what therapies they feel best serve their personal medical needs," Valentine says, noting she suffers from chronic pain herself, with family members who are MMJ patients. "That's why that ad was in there. If you read the bottom of the ad, we also put in that we care about people."

Always watching

When the Drug Enforcement Agency revealed it had collected information and run background checks on Colorado MMC owners, it prompted one question: Why?

Special Agent Mike Turner, in the Denver field office, says it wasn't in preparation for any DEA action.

"It's just intelligence-gathering. Obviously marijuana is still against the law federally, and part of our mission [is], we have to keep tabs on what is going on in the drug world to determine whether or not any of these dispensaries are connected to any cases we're involved in," he said in a phone conversation last week.

Turner says that roughly half of the 716 owners reviewed had criminal convictions.

"These numbers were basically obtained by us just through open-source reporting in publications such as Westword, and other newspapers, and online directories that anybody has access to."


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