Matt Cook: Get informed


Banning medical marijuana businesses is a public policy decision that can have a severe impact on the quality of life for many Steamboat Springs residents. Voters will soon cast their votes to keep medical marijuana under the statutory regulated scheme, or return to the former constitutional amendment voters passed in 2000. Making an informed decision requires understanding the differences between the constitutional amendment and the regulatory scheme. As the former senior director of enforcement with the Colorado Department of Revenue, I designed the regulatory framework to regulate medical marijuana businesses in Colorado. In creating this framework, I used my 35 years of law enforcement experience and designed this system to provide a safe and secure way to sell medical marijuana in a regulated manner.  

During a recent debate, I was asked to explain the differences between the regulatory scheme created in 2010 and the constitutional amendment the voters passed in 2000. To begin the forum, I disclosed that I have retired from more than 35 years of successful public service and am now an industry and government consultant. Unfortunately, those in favor of the ban chose to try to attack my integrity instead of attacking the factual differences between the statutory-regulatory scheme and the constitutional amendment. The facts speak for themselves, and I encourage everyone to watch the factual presentation I made at the beginning of the debate and learn about the significant differences between the two provisions.

Yes, there are very good reasons that the General Assembly chose not to rely on the constitutional amendment written by marijuana advocates in 2000, and lawmakers subsequently passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2010.

Here are a few facts for your consideration:

Regulatory scheme:

■ Licenses: Required for businesses, owners, managers and employees.

■ Rigorous background investigation; no felons.

■ Security: More restrictive than casinos and pharmacies; law enforcement has access (without a search warrant) to required 24/7 Web-based video surveillance detailing everything; no requirement to keep plants alive if seized.

■ The location of the businesses must comply with all local zoning laws, thereby generally prohibiting them from operating within residential neighborhoods (local discretion).

Constitutional amendment:

■ No licenses.

■ No background checks; felons OK.

■ Security: No security; search warrants required; must keep any plants seized alive pending the outcome of any court action (plants are valued at $6,000 each).

■ No statutory requirement on location of businesses; can operate in neighborhoods and near schools.

The regulatory framework provides protections for patients, businesses and the community at-large and was enacted because of the number of businesses operating under the constitutional amendment that were not regulated. The Medical Marijuana Act diminishes the black market by providing regulatory oversight, increases government revenue and provides safe access to medicine for Coloradans who are sick and dying.

While the argument can be made that the constitutional amendment provides similar protections, constitutional caregivers remain an unregulated business with little or no oversight.

Matt Cook

Castle Rock


Sam Jones 5 years, 3 months ago


You've done a great job establishing rules and regs for the sale of pot through dispensaries. But who is enforcing and regulating those who issue the cards? Why is the average age of a "patient" now falling below 40 in CO.? Look at the growing numbers of users and get informed about the results! Is good clean regulation of the dispensing process the debate? Or is this really about easier access to drugs among recreational users? Please don't distract the issue with your personal achievements, no one is challenging the regulatory framework on the sale of marijuana. We are question the legitimacy of the patient pool however. Let's stay focused eh?


JJ Southard 5 years, 3 months ago

The legitimacy of the patient pool is a Dept of Health issue, the MMC's are a Dept of Revenue issue. LivinSmall, quit distracting things, yourself.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, the constitutional amendment states under what conditions residents can get mmj recommendations and the state legislature cannot further restrict it.

And doctors have not made it easy to take actions against fellow doctors writing easy prescriptions for narcotics or easy recommendations for mmj.

But the ban is not about the mmj patient and the legitimacy of mmj recommendations as they will retain the Colorado Constitutional right to legally possess mmj regardless. The ban is about the dispensary providing regulated mmj to that person.


Sam Jones 5 years, 3 months ago

Look, if we find that CO cantaloupe is the root cause of Listeria then we pull the cantaloupe from the shelves until we figure out the problem, right? If our Dept of Health is incapable of enforcing the legitimacy of the patient pool, than we pull pot off the shelves until we figure it out. I doubt our shops will voluntarily close their doors until that happens. So we ban them until the real problem is addressed. Sadly, the pot shops are not at fault and I don't care to shut down any business. They are really casualties in a system that has gone wrong. No distraction intended on my end, just calling out the real issue.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Sam, No, the cantaloupes are pulled because the harm of someone getting sick is great and the benefit of a cantaloupe is minimal.

By your logic then narcotics would be banned until it was clear there were no doctors having written prescriptions for narcotics when not required. For the case of narcotics, there is great potential harm (death) for those that are addicted, but there is also substantial benefit for those that need the drugs to deal with pain. So it makes no sense to suggest banning narcotic pain killers until the patient pool is cleaned up.

The cantaloupe analogy argues against banning mmj because there is minimal harm caused by an unneeded recommendation and significant harm caused in denying mmj from a patient that needs it. So it makes no sense to suggest banning dispensaries until the patient pool is cleaned up.


heboprotagonist 5 years, 3 months ago


The cantaloupe comparison is way-off base. Listeria can kill. Pot doesn't even slow most people down.

And "legitimizing the patient pool" is not the job of regular citizens. That's a decision for educated professionals.

Your aversion to this model is similar to a parent who doesn't like the prognosis as given by a doctor. You're entitled to your opinion, but we don't put the treatment for severe allergies or autism to a public vote. We don't ban the sale of neosporin until we get the results we're looking for.

We're not a democracy, we're a republic. Not everyone gets to have a say in every issue- let the professionals do their job.


JusWondering 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, I see Livinlarge's comparison as a salient one. The bigger issue is compliance with the letter and the spirit of a regulatory environment. One is put in place to ensure the general welfare of those consuming a product. The other is one that is put in place that a product is used with the intended use as presented to and approved by the voters.

I may not be the 99%. I may not be the 5% or whatever, but I AM one that voted for MEDICAL MJ... NOT recreational MJ. I am one that now has acute buyers' remorse believing that the pro MJ crowd lied to the Colorado voters. You did not seek to ease the pain of debilitating conditions; you sought complete legalization... something that is becoming painfully obvious with your infatuation.

I am all about helping individuals with debilitating conditions ease their pain using homeopathic solutions. I am not about the snow job that recreational MJ users are trying to pull off. If you wanted full legalization then you should have presented the question before the voters and taken the result. That WAS NOT the question presented before the voters.

I am not going to get into arguments about whether alcohol kills more people or whether big pharma is a problem. I see them as nothing but distractions from the real issue at hand. Nor am I going to start the repugnant name calling that this topic seems to fall into. It belittles all who want to have an intelligent conversation. In some of the threads all I wait to read is "I know you are, but what am I".

To quote "heboprotagonist" "We are not a democracy, we're a republic." Fortunately on this very specific issue you are wrong; every voter had a say in this issue. We, the voters of Colorado, determine the fate if a constitutional amendment is not being enforced as we had approved it. A constitutional amendment can also be reversed... that is the benefit of our form of government. Like it or not, the Colorado State constitution is about as easy to change as our underwear.


bandmama 5 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for an intelligent article/letter and some points of reference.


bandmama 5 years, 3 months ago

Just an odd observation, is anyone else having a problem trying to post a comment in regards to Mr.Sharp's letter today? Pilot is NOT logging me out, just wont allow me to post a comment. Hmmmm, interesting.


spidermite 5 years, 3 months ago

bandmama, It's not just you. There were a few comments posted before I drove to Steamboat. When I returned you couldn't comment anymore. Seeuski must of posted.


rhys jones 5 years, 3 months ago

bandmama -- I noticed the same thing, was tempted to take it personally, as if I'd offended sensitivities and was thus blacklisted. Anybody having trouble commenting on the Ptarm article too? Not that I wanted to again, but I saw the same thing there. Now I'm going through seeing where comments are still allowed. And thanks -- as usual, I thought it was all about me.


bandmama 5 years, 3 months ago

LOL! Must be a little glitch in the system..... but thanks for letting me know that I had no reason for my self esteem to fall to such a low level by thinking my comments were not valid.....HAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!!!


heboprotagonist 5 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I had a response to Mr. Sharp's letter disappear and now the comment box is gone. Interesting that a few posts after mine made it through.

Mr. Wonderin'- I wasn't referring to the original vote on mmj when I said we were a republic. I was specifically referring to the notion of "legitimizing the patient pool" that Mr. Large brought up. Yes, we voted on mmj but we don't get to vote on how that patient pool is regulated. If you have buyers remorse then direct at the appropriate parties (doctors, lawyers, etc.), not the dispensaries.

Saying that you won't entertain the "alcohol argument" doesn't make it any less valid. It simply means that you avoid arguments that you don't have a rebuttal for. And the Big-Pharma question wouldn't be an issue if a long-time (non physician) Steamboat resident was forcing the issue. Instead we have a relative newcomer with verified ties to Big-Pharma stirring the pot. Who knows? Maybe those ladies have have genuine concern, but as we all know- perception is reality.

I love how the ant-dispensary crowd says "this isn't what I voted for" b/c most of the people I know say this is exactly what they voted for. Snowjob? Really? Any more so than tax loopholes, illegitimate wars, or compassionate conservatism?

All politics is a scam, a con, what-have-you. Cherry picking this issue to say "this isn't what I signed up for" doesn't make you any more capable of intelligent conversation, it doesn't justify the vocal minority that wants to shut down a legitimate business. It merely highlights the desire to control the narrative (not possible) and concentrate wealth (regrettably easy).


bandmama 5 years, 3 months ago

Since I cant seem to post (nor can anyone else...) on Dr Sharps opinion, Let me try here. For one, there was that vicious weed, POT in Steamboat, LONG before the "stores". Part of the beauty of this little town is the acceptance of all walks of life as long as there was respect and tolerance and no one hurt anyone else.All was good. I have only been here for about ten years, But I have seen a distrubing increase of "do-gooders" trying to make Steamboat the "ideal" tourist town. Part of the lure for many was the fact that one could walk down the street in Steamboat in a Dead shirt or a Cowboy hat or in Cycling gear and NO ONE gave judgement. Those opposed to the open loving atmosphere that was once the little town of Steamboat are only screwing the rest of us that enjoy that "HELLO" attitude that made us so diiferent from Vail and other destinations. The strict, regulated, and maintained dispencing of mmj is minor in $'s spent to make welcome, tourists who spend the bucks to enjoy the mountain life style. Yeah, let's make this a hot spot of debate instead of focusing on what has made Steamboat a destination dream for so many.


JusWondering 5 years, 3 months ago

Heb. Cherry picking an issue? Isn't the issue at hand how the legislation that was voted for is implemented; i.e. the usage of dispensaries and the incessant abuse of a law put in place to bring relief to a very small minority of our population. Yes, the regulations allow for dispensaries and I ALWAYS wondered how it would be a profitable business model given the overall health of Coloradoans and our active lifestyles. I am now seeing it very clearly... abuse of the system to the very edge of the law because it NEVER was about providing help for those with a debilitating condition. This is why the backlash toward dispensaries; they are simply the easiest mechanism to control at this point.

Tell me how, in rural mountain towns like SB there are enough residents with debilitating conditions to support not just one but multiple dispensaries? It must be one of the sickest cities in America; that alone should be enough to make tourists second guess whether or not they should visit our fair town. After all, I would be concerned that my lift operator (insert job function if you don't like lift operator) is going to collapse on me if he/she is 20 something with a debilitating condition that requires constant treatment via a controlled substance. I would have the same concern if this same 20 something is popping pills or drunk. In fact, if he/she showed up drunk his/her arse would be fired.

To say we don't get to vote on how the regulations are implemented is a farse. We have representatives in place to ensure that the regulations are implemented in the manner in which they were presented. If they are not, it is our responsibility to vote them out and vote in those that will.

P.S. I wasn't asked to fund "illegal wars" or "tax loopholes" because I have a representative Federal government that is supposed to watch out for my best interest... to the extent that they do not I cast my vote to boot them out as it is my responsibility to do and something I do every election cycle. I WAS specifically asked to legitimize a previously illegal (it still is illegal at a Federal level) controlled substance to provide relief of pain for those suffering debilitating conditions; not the recreational usage of the same substance. To the extent that my representatives in Denver do not execute on my wishes they should be voted out. To the extent that it is not practical to reverse the mess they have created, we have a responsibility to enact further statutes at a local level to control EXACTLY how this should be implemented.

Therefore, until the pro MJ crowd can provide a viable solution to implement the law as it was presented to the people with the intent that was advertised to the people I will be voting to close every dispensary in the County as an option comes up to do so. Those who NEED the medication will still be able to obtain it.


cheesehead 5 years, 3 months ago

Anyone will still be able to get it, along with the choice of mushrooms and maybe some coke. They will also be able to get it from whatever source is easiest on the black market (funding criminal trafficking). It seems everyone against the shops are against the MMJ laws. The laws will exist without the shops. That lift op will still have his card. If your beef is that the law allows too many people to have a card, you need to work to change the law.
Closing the shops does nothing but put the business in your backyard. The ads in the paper that so many find offensive will be replaced with ads for growers and caregivers(some may even be your neighbor!). If closing the shops will allow you to pretend that people aren't actively (and legaly) growing, disributing and using marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, then I guess thats up to you. Maybe we can ban the sale of nicotine in Routt county and pretend people aren't using it as well.


trump_suit 5 years, 3 months ago

For all of those that are so upset by the dispencery model.

How will you react if the voters once again uphold the current situation?

Just a thought, it should be noted that it was the voters that approved this model. It was not shoved down your throat by an elected official or judge, but brought into being by by your fellow citzens and neighbors.

Sounds like democracy to me, but the opponents seem to believe that with a few outright lies and much false innuendo maybe we can stuff the genie back into the bottle. What you fail to understand is that while you might be able to ban the dispenseries and the advertising, all that will be accomplished is turning them into co-ops which do not pay taxes and do not have the same restrictions.

How many Hydroponics stores are there in Routt County now? Their customers ain't growin' tomatos. Will you look to control your neighbors basement as well?


trump_suit 5 years, 3 months ago

spel chk wuld seeem a gould ider

Sorry both that.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

"Those who NEED the medication will still be able to obtain it."

So the better solution is to encourage people that need it to go to drug dealers? As if drug dealers won't sell to kids or anyone else or sell more than marijuana.

Seems to me that the number of local mmj patients just goes to show how big the illegal drug market was before dispensaries and how it will be again if they are banned

And still the opponents cite patients will questionable medical justifications which is a medical profession issue and has nothing to do with dispensaries. Maybe the medical profession is so out of control writing prescription meds for narcotics that are now killing more people than traffic accidents and mmj recommendations that they should be banned until they can clean things up. That would be pretty drastic and not make much overall, but it makes more sense than banning mmj businesses because doctors have written some doubtful mmj recommendations.


heboprotagonist 5 years, 3 months ago


You make a lot of claims about voting in a republic, i.e. voting out a representative, voting to change regulations to curb abuse, etc. But that isn't what the vote at hand is regarding. You're voting to ban a legitimate business b/c you can't change the 2000 vote and you can't vote out the representatives that support mmj. And if you thought the vote in 2000 was really just about "real" medical conditions and not the incremental movement to legalize mj once and for all- then you are incredibly naive. Naivety so severe that it calls into question your ability to discuss the issue at all.

You've got an itchy trigger finger, but the target you want isn't in your sights. So you're just pulling the trigger on the next best thing.

The anti-dispensary group needs to be honest with themselves. This isn't about image- SBS was known as a pot town long before the dispensaries. This isn't about a political snowjob or medical abuse- there are more dangerous and pervasive issues around. This is about legislating morality, and that is never a victorious platform.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

And the point of incrementalism is that we can see what happens before taking the next step. And none of the terrible predictions of the horrible consequences of people using mj have come true. So now the incrementalists are looking to take the next step while some that were opposed to the previous step also oppose the next step.

And from the demographics, it is clear from polls that support will continue to grow because the younger baby boomers and younger adults support legalization while the older that grew up with Reefer Madness are opposed. So the opposition is literally dying off.


trump_suit 5 years, 2 months ago

Anti-Depressant use up 400% in 20 years

Tell us Dr's. How is this possible when you are all so clearly against drug abuse.

This is just the anti-depressants, what do the numbers look like if you add in pain pills?


Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

See the ban dispensaries ad in the newspaper? Besides the normal factual issues, note how it does not say whom paid for the political ad. So why the secrecy? Pretty odd to secretly pay for an ad that says "Why We Need"? Who is "We"? The American Nazi Party which has a long history of opposing mj and mmj?

In contrast, those opposing the ban have followed state laws and formed a state registered political action committee Sensible Steamboat.

So, apparently those that oppose the bans and which to retain dispensaries are good with following the laws which the pro-ban people are into lawlessness and secrecy.


kevin fisher 5 years, 2 months ago


I fully agree. The opposition's campaign has been run without the establishment of an official initiative committee.

We, on the vote no on 2c side, have tried to stay above the muck and mire. Dr. Victory has used the current advert's premise as talking points during her recent public appearances. Many of the points made are factually inaccurate, aka LIES. However, on the speaking circuit, this is to be expected. But, to put these in print, certainly raises a legal question, which we will be addressing.

"Explosion" in DUID's: 13 in 2008......16 in 2010.

Shame on you, folks.

Kevin Fisher


muck 5 years, 2 months ago


First of all, i resemble that remark. Second, as i have said LIES LIES LIES. But wait! It is my prediction that we will have some type of "incident" here in the VERY near future that will attempt to "SHOCK AND AWE" the voters into thinking despensaries are the root of the evils. Caution advised!


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