City Council in weeds on medical marijuana
Politicians, especially those of the Washington variety, like to avoid some issues because, they say, those issues get too deep into the weeds.
Meaning, of course, that the issues are complex and the political payoff is likely minimal.
The Grand Junction City Council, however, has no such built-in defense.
To its credit, the council decided Wednesday to jump into the weeds.
Or, in this case, weed, as marijuana has long been colloquially known.
The council, as are policy makers across Colorado, is faced with a multitude of issues when the subject of medical marijuana arises.
Obviously, Amendment 20, approved by voters in 2000, is the driving force behind the availability of what we now identify as medical marijuana. When voters decided a decade ago that people suffering from chronic pain ought to have access to marijuana to alleviate those symptoms, it was far from clear that cannabis would be made available via what have become called dispensaries.
It has taken, in fact, 10 years, for the issue to advance this far.
People who voted for Amendment 20 can’t be blamed for thinking that cannabis would be made available via prescriptions that could be filled at the local pharmacy, though, to be fair, that wasn’t necessarily everyone’s idea.
Not to be ignored in all this is the fact that the federal government still outlaws marijuana.
Certainly the current federal attitude toward enforcing marijuana laws is something less than stringent, but that can change in the twinkling of an election.
Another element of the issue is the unproven, but undeniably sympathetic reports of people who claim to have been helped by marijuana-based regimens, sometimes of their own design.
Using a local ballot measure to deal with the complex issues posed by the passage of another ballot measure that passed a decade ago, would be a badly mixed prescription, one likely to cause more problems than it resolves.
While some might choose to simply ban medical marijuana and be done with the issue, the simplicity of that approach is deceiving.
Grand Junction residents will find ways to legally obtain medical marijuana and bring it to their homes, even if dispensaries are prohibited.
The council has on-call legal advice, as well as guidance as to methods that have been used successfully, and unsuccessfully, elsewhere in dealing with the regulation of dispensaries inside city limits.
Dealing with issues that arise with medical marijuana dispensaries — up to and including finding ways to make sure that the product is dispensed according to the spirit and letter of Amendment 20 — is best handled by the council under the supervision of voters who can evaluate its work when it’s appropriate — election time.