Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 20, 201722min1211

Doug Robinson compares winning the Republican nomination for governor of Colorado to getting hired after a really long job interview, and he believes his background and experience will give him the edge. One of seven declared GOP candidates for next year’s election — with at least three heavyweights waiting in the wings — Robinson speaks highly of his leading primary opponents but suggests his experience founding and running a financial firm that advised technology companies sets him apart.


Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 12, 20176min1320

A new lawsuit has cast an epileptic 11-year-old girl living in rural Colorado into the heart of a nationwide dispute over medical marijuana.

The lawsuit filed by the attorney of Alexis Bortell seeks to force the federal government to change its Schedule One classification of marijuana.

“What we hope to accomplish from the lawsuit is simple,” said Susan M. Fauls, chief of staff for the law firm suing the federal government on behalf of Alexis and four other plaintiffs. “A permanent injunction restraining the federal government from enforcing the [Controlled Substances Act] as it pertains to cannabis.”

The classification as a Schedule One drug prevents most efforts by Alexis to travel outside Colorado with the cannabis oil that prevents her seizures. Cannabis is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act refers to drugs with a high potential for abuse that have no medical use accepted by the healthcare industry. Transporting marijuana is illegal outside the District of Columbia and 25 states that have legalized at least limited use of it.

However, without the cannabis oil she swallows through a dropper, Alexis would suffer debilitating seizures.

As her seizures became more severe and frequent, her parents moved their family from North Texas — where marijuana is illegal — to Colorado. Alexis has been free of seizures for nearly 2½ years, ever since she started the cannabis oil treatments in Colorado.

She is living with her parents on a farm in Colorado, but her family does not want to disclose the location to protect their privacy.

Her attorney, Michael Hiller, argues that Congress misclassified marijuana as a Schedule One drug in 1970 largely out of ignorance about its medicinal qualities.

“There are people all over the United States for whom cannabis is a cure for their disease and they can’t use it unless they violate the Controlled Substances Act,” Hiller told Colorado Politics.

Colorado’s legalization of marijuana only partially resolves problems created by the federal law for Alexis and other persons who need it as a medicine.

They still are prohibited from traveling with their marijuana products on commercial airlines or from entering national parks, the U.S. Capitol and other federal property.

“She can’t go anyplace outside of Colorado unless she goes by car and she has to return to Colorado by night because she has to take her medication,” Hiller said.

He wants the U.S. District Court in New York to declare parts of the Controlled Substances Act that make marijuana a Schedule One drug unconstitutional, thereby freeing up its medicinal use nationwide.

Lawmakers who outlawed it associated marijuana with “hippes” and “minorities,” says the lawsuit filed against the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“This lawsuit stands to benefit tens of millions of Americans who require, but are unable to safely obtain, Cannabis for the treatment of their illnesses, diseases and medical conditions, the successful treatment of which is dependent upon its curative properties,” the lawsuit filed July 24 in federal court says. “In addition, this lawsuit, if successful, would aid in the restoration of communities hardest hit and most egregiously stigmatized by the federal government’s misguided and Crusades-like ‘War on Drugs.’”

It argues that the federal government has overstepped its authority to regulate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by the Schedule One classification. The lawsuit also says the Controlled Substances Act’s ban on transporting marijuana across state lines violates the Constitution’s “Right to Travel.”

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit who say they need medical marijuana include a small child, a military veteran and a retired professional football player. An advocacy group called the Cannabis Cultural Association also is named as a plaintiff.

They and other persons were referred to Hiller by a documentary filmmaker who was making a movie about people who need medicinal marijuana.

The Drug Enforcement Administration considered softening its resistance to marijuana after hearings in Congress but one year ago announced it would keep the Schedule One classification.

Two bills have been introduced in Congress this year to downgrade the Schedule One classification. They have not yet passed.

In May, the American Legion petitioned the White House for a meeting to discuss reclassifying marijuana to allow broader use for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Peter MarcusMay 17, 20174min760

Colorado medical marijuana patients are on edge over a statement made by the Trump administration signaling objections to a prohibition on interfering with state-run medical marijuana programs.

As reported by the Washington Post, a “signing statement” that accompanied Trump’s signature on a bill passed this month to keep the government open objected to a provision that prohibits his administration from interfering with medical marijuana programs.

The provision prohibits the Justice Department from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana programs.

It was a bit of a surprise, considering as a candidate for President, Trump spoke of support for medical marijuana. There are now 29 states that have authorized medical marijuana programs, including Colorado, which also has legalized recreational marijuana.

Colorado medical marijuana advocates are hopeful that Trump is simply flexing his muscle.

“It’s showboating,” said Jason Warf, who represents the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, which represents medical marijuana patients.

“It’s Trump saying he will do whatever he wants, which would just be sort of stereotypical for him. On the flip side, we’re trying to stay pretty vigilant, keeping an eye on things.”

Most concerning to cannabis advocates is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an ardent critic of legalized marijuana. But Sessions has offered only vague statements about a potential federal crackdown, and most of his statements have revolved around recreational activities.

The “signing statement” by Trump is more to raise objections, rather than offer new policy.

“Sessions obviously has a personal agenda against anything cannabis, but at the same time, I think that’s a tough battle for him given the number of medical states that we have now,” Warf said.

Teri Robnett, founder and executive director of the Cannabis Patients Alliance, which represents medical marijuana patients in Colorado, is a bit more concerned.

“I have no idea what Trump is going to do,” Robnett said. “He seems to love keeping everyone in chaos, and he bragged during the campaign about being unpredictable, and I think that’s who he is. The lack of consistency is driving everyone crazy.

“We’re always on edge, and a little bit more than we have been,” Robnett continued.

What’s perhaps more concerning to activists is that Sessions recently directed federal prosecutors to take a harder approach to prosecuting drug crimes. President Obama had eased some of those prosecutorial directions.

There could be changes in enforcement coming regarding marijuana, which has the industry concerned, though few have yet fully panicked.

For the Justice Department, the issue has more to do with enforcing federal law. Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level. Justice Department officials believe they have an obligation to enforce all federal laws, including those surrounding marijuana.

But Warf said a harder approach to prosecuting drug crimes would signal a reversal from eroding a drug war that observers largely agree has been somewhat ineffective.

“We have bigger concerns over the sentencing component,” Warf said. “There’s a reason that we go after drug offenders in the U.S. It has absolutely nothing to do with public safety. It’s because we can use drug offenders as prison labor.”


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyMay 1, 20177min1080

Denver officials gave retail marijuana dispensaries the OK to operate for an extra three hours in the evening — a measure that would bring hours for city retail cannabis shop hours in line with neighboring communities. The City Council approved the bill 11-2 during a regular meeting April 24, which allows medical and/or recreational marijuana dispensaries to stay open until 10 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. The change is effective May 1.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 25, 20176min127

In one of the reddest cities in the state and the country, three political progressives were elected in landslides to the Colorado Springs City Council earlier this April. Though those City Council seats are nonpartisan, Dawn Haliburton-Rudy says it’s the first steps in changing the political geography of the long-time conservative stronghold in El Paso County. “If we can create monumental shift within our political landscape, that holds huge implications nationwide,” Haliburton-Rudy said.


Peter MarcusApril 20, 20176min67
As marijuana enthusiasts gathered in Denver’s Civic Center on Thursday, praying for rain to hold during 420 festivities, lawmakers across the park rejected an effort to ban cannabis use in churches. The legislature on Thursday also approved adding post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, pushed a last-minute […]

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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinApril 11, 20179min82

Instead of a sought-after additional five hours of business, Denver's recreational marijuana dispensaries seem likely to be allowed three extra hours, and city coffers could see between $664,000 to $1.3 million in extra revenue if all those dispensaries decided to take advantage of the extra hours that may soon be allowed under a City and County of Denver policy change. But the idea is not unanimously supported on Denver City Council or by the body's constituents. Currently, Denver’s hours of operation for both medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. State regulations allow all marijuana dispensaries to be open from 8 a.m. to midnight, subject to local regulation. Many other Colorado municipalities allow dispensaries to stay open until either 10 p.m. or midnight, including Aurora, Boulder, Commerce City, Edgewater and Glendale.