Last week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that will introduce another round of sweeping changes to the state’s medical marijuana industry, according to this Associated Press story in the Denver Post.
There was little fanfare surrounding the signing. And rightfully so: It was more of a procedural step, as the industry has been preparing for the changes – which go into effect on July 1 – for months now.
But I did find one part of the story somewhat surprising.
From the article: A marijuana activist who favors legalization blasted Hickenlooper for signing the marijuana regulations Thursday. Robert Chase, founder of the Colorado Coalition of Caregivers & Patients, said state lawmakers and the governor are foolish to think they’re allowed to regulate a federally banned substance. “It has become clear in hindsight that the Obama administration has never OK’d states being in violation of federal controlled substance law,” said Chase, who favors federal change in the classification of marijuana. “It’s foolish to continue down this path. … They’re just exposing all of us to federal criminal liability.”
I must be missing something here. Why would someone who clearly favors legalization seemingly argue against states regulating the use of medical marijuana? Without the state laws, growing, selling and possessing marijuana for medical purposes would still be illegal federally anyway, yet the individuals engaged in such activity would theoretically face a much higher risk of prosecution than they do now. At least the state law gives them some protection, however thin it is.
I could understand if his opposition was tied to the new regulations themselves – indeed, many in the industry have criticized the rules – or to the further tightening of state control over the industry. But I’m confused as to why he would come out against medical marijuana regulation in general. Doesn’t this help the cause?
Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily