High on Gallagher

Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council president Tanya Garduno has no doubt why the local medical marijuana industry supports Tom Gallagher's bid for mayor.

"He's never 'politicianed' on us," says Garduno, who sent a mass e-mail encouraging people to attend Gallagher's kickoff event. "He's always done exactly what he said he was going to do.

"He's also been to dozens of functions about patients — he's actually taken the time to go and sit and speak with patients. Any time that you have a politician who's willing to take time out of their everyday life and actually learn more about, not just the issue, but the people behind the issue, that's impressive."

The City Councilor has his own theories.

"I think it's because I've demonstrated an ability to objectively assess controversial issues," Gallagher says. "For me, it was never a right or wrong issue — I never had to wrestle with that — because that was already decided back in [2000] when they passed the amendment and changed the state of Colorado constitution.

"My local office says I have to respect the state constitution, and I respect the will of the people."

Garduno says she'll be issuing a voters guide in March. For now, Gallagher says he's glad for the industry's support.

"It's politics. In politics you take money from anyone that will give it to you."

Probing probation

We recently learned that probation, typically a condition of a plea agreement, creates all kinds of problems for MMJ patients.

"In the plea agreement," explains defense attorney Clifton Black, "we often see a clause in there that in accepting the agreement, if the defendant is on supervised probation, they agree not to use medical marijuana, they agree not to be a caregiver and they agree not to work in a medical marijuana center."

Besides this creating a potentially life-threatening situation for people who depend on MMJ, the guideline is not consistently enforced. Though district attorney spokeswoman Shelly LaGrill says the wording is included in every probationary agreement, Black says he's had cases where a deal was struck, depending on the facts. Also, judges can make a similar overriding determination during sentencing, though the decision to allow the defendant to medicate has only happened in some 10 percent of Black's cases.

"I feel like our court systems are state courts and they are to follow Colorado law, and not federal law," the attorney says. "I think the judge, or the district attorney, may be making a medical decision. And I think the medical decisions really need to be made by the doctors."


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