Medical pot bills among last Gov. Ritter will sign

Gov. Bill Ritter has only a few more days to act on the last bills of his administration.

The governor, who is not seeking re-election, plans to travel to southwest Colorado, the San Luis Valley, the central mountains and, finally, back to Denver this week to sign what bills remain on his desk from the 2010 legislative session.

Chief among them are two measures to regulate medical marijuana and the doctors who allow their patients to use it.

Those measures, House Bill 1284 and Senate Bill 109, will be signed by the governor later this week, said Ritter’s press secretary, Evan Dreyer.

While those measures are designed to put guardrails on how the numerous dispensaries that have cropped up around the state operate, they also allow local communities to pass ordinances banning them outright or place a question on their local ballots asking voters if they don’t want them around.

“If you do an Internet search of newspapers around the state, you’ll see every day a story about a new community banning dispensaries,” Dreyer said.

“This is a state that has a long history of local rule, so if that’s the decision by local communities, then so be it.”

While local governments such as Vail already approved an outright ban on dispensaries, others still are talking about it.

Mesa County commissioners are considering putting the issue on the November ballot. Morgan County, Greeley, Loveland and Louisville are considering doing the same thing.

Regardless of how many communities end up approving bans, Dreyer said the matter is expected to end up in court because of the constitutional issues that banning the dispensaries will raise.

Supporters of the dispensary model said the law that legalized medical marijuana was a constitutional amendment that no local government has the right to overrule.

Opponents, however, say that law didn’t explicitly allow dispensaries, and they argue that a legal challenge likely will fail because HB1284 still lets caregivers operate on a limited basis in areas that ban dispensaries.

The deadline for Ritter to sign those bills and others approved during the 2010 legislative session is Friday. To date, the governor has signed 366 bills and vetoed two.

On Monday, the governor will be in Cortez and Durango signing several bills, including one that reduces late vehicle registration fees for heavy trailers such as campers.

Last month, Ritter signed a bill that did the same thing for smaller ones, such as boat trailers.

Under current law, trailers are subject to the same maximum $100 fee for renewing license plates after they expire. The new laws reduce that late fee to $10.


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