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Uncertainty continues to cloud the future of the medical marijuana industry in Fort Collins.
Local officials as well as marijuana advocates say they are waiting to see what happens next for the budding industry following the state Legislature's passage of two bills aimed at regulating how medical pot is prescribed, grown and distributed.
House Bill 1284 establishes an authority within the state Department of Revenue to license and oversee medical marijuana centers. The authority would be funded by myriad fees on growers and dispensaries that have yet to be established but are expected to run into the thousands of dollars.
The measure allows local governments to ban marijuana businesses. The bill was designed to shut down the majority of existing marijuana businesses by increasing their costs and making them jump through numerous regulatory hoops, said Travis Cutbirth, co-owner of Medical Gardens of Colorado, 420 S. Mason St., Fort Collins.
"The stated intention of this bill was to set the bar so high that most people couldn't reach it," he said.
"It's like tying someone's legs and hands behind their back, tossing them in the water and telling them to learn how to swim," he said. "If you don't make it to shore, too bad."
Senate Bill 109 addresses the doctor-patient relationship regarding medical pot, including blocking physicians from working for dispensaries.
The bill also establishes a medical review board that would determine whether a patient younger than 21 should receive medical marijuana.
Gov. Bill Ritter has indicated he will sign both pieces of legislation. If that happens, marijuana advocates say they will sue the state and challenge the constitutionality of the laws.
"I hope he changes his mind," said Rob Corry, a Denver attorney who handles medical marijuana cases.
Legal tactics are likely to include seeking an injunction in District Court blocking the laws from going into effect until the litigation is settled, Corry said.
City rules A legal challenge would put the onus of regulating medical marijuana on local entities, said Capt. Jerry Schiager of Fort Collins police.
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