State Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, says the economy, state budget and medical marijuana are among key issues facing legislators in the upcoming …
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State Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, says the economy, state budget
and medical marijuana are among key issues facing legislators in
the upcoming session of the Colorado General Assembly.
The 65 state representatives and the 35 state senators will meet
Jan. 13 as the 67th session of the assembly opens its session.
Rice said the Legislature will be dealing with bills on a
multitude of subjects but the overall state of the economy tops the
“Fortunately, it appears the economy in Colorado is on the road
to recovery but we still have a long way to go,” Rice said. “The
employment picture is improving slowly but better than most other
states. Still, it will take time before hirings translate to
improved tax revenues so we still face the challenge of cutting
spending to balance the budget.”
He said one issue facing the Legislature is the state’s role in
facilitating the economic recovery.
“For example, I hope we can consider and pass a bill that
provides tax credits to companies that bring back laid-off
employees,” he said. “That is the sort of action that would benefit
small business and the whole state by putting people back to work.
We need to take these and other steps to make sure that Colorado is
and remains a great place to do business.”
He noted revenues continue to be down so, once again the
Legislature must face the difficult tasks of making cuts to balance
Medical marijuana is another issue that the Legislature must
deal with in the upcoming session, Rice said.
“I feel safe in saying the majority of people who voted to
approve the 2000 provision to legalize medical marijuana envisioned
the new law as a way to help people who truly needed the benefits
of marijuana to relive pain of issues like chemotherapy or someone
in hospice. But that isn’t what is happening with dispensaries
popping up everywhere,” he said. “The amendment the voters passed
talked about doctors, patients, chronic illness and medical uses of
marijuana. That amendment didn’t mention dispensaries. So, I feel
we need to meet the intent of those who voted to approve this
He said he favors a bill that goes back to what is in the ballot
measure, where he feels it states that if you have a condition a
doctor feels will be helped by the medical use of marijuana, you
can grow your own or get a supply from a caregiver.
“What the Legislature needs to do is define the relationship
between doctor and patient. I feel medical marijuana should be like
any other controlled substance that has medical purposes. So, we
need to set the rules that state that in order to prescribe medical
marijuana, there needs to be a real relationship between a licensed
doctor and the patient. That would include the follow-up care and
all the other things done when prescribing any other controlled
substance. This is favored by the doctors in our medical
He also said there should be a definition of caregiver that
allows an individual to grow and provide medical marijuana to those
who need it and can’t grow their own. But he said he suggests a
caregiver be limited to five patients and that all caregivers sign
up on a state registry so a person who has a prescription for
medical marijuana can find someone to supply their needs.
He said the third thing that must be addressed is that the
marijuana being provided is safe and doesn’t come from drug cartels
or from areas that use dangerous pesticides banned in the U.S.
The state representative said he isn’t yet sure whether or not
he’ll author a medical marijuana bill but he is more interested in
supporting a bill that addresses the issues.
“As always, the Legislature has a lot on its plate to deal
with,” Rice said. “Although this is an election year, I hope all
the legislators put party politics on hold so we can work together
and pass meaningful legislation for our state.”
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