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Jan 29, 2010 6:37 PM by James Jarman

UPDATE: Medical Marijuana battle heats up, industry leaders threaten lawsuits

     The fight over regulating the medical marijuana industry is heating up.
    
     State senators gave intital approval to a bill aimed at keeping recreational pot smokers from getting medical cards.

     They eliminated part of the bill that would've required doctors to give more follow up exams to patients, but left in a requirement that doctors give a full exam.  It also bars doctors from writing prescriptions inside medical marijuana dispensaries.

    The measure goes for a final vote in the senate next week.

     Leaders in the medical marijuana industry say lawmakers are setting the state up for lawsuits if they pass any of the current bills as written.
    
     Chiropractor Mike Kopta runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado Springs.   He's a member the group Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, which he says organized to get accurate information about the industry to the public and local lawmakers, and come up with ideas to help regulate the industry. 
    
     He says the current proposed laws that state legislators are debating will lead to lawsuits, "and waste a lot of the taxpayers money by passing legislation that is gonna be thrown out because it's unconstitutional, because it's vioalating our constitutional rights as citizens of the state of Colorado."
    
     State Attorney General John Suthers says we need more laws governing medical marijuana because there's system-wide abuse, especially surrounding the people getting medical marijuana cards.
         
     In Colorado roughly 17,000 people have medical marijuana cards, and roughly 20,000 others have applied and are still waiting for approval.
    
     "The vast, vast majority of these people do not suffer from a debilitating condition, they're gaming the system. so we've got widespread state sanctioned fraud," said Suthers.
     
     Kopta disagrees and says the laws in place now need to be enforced better. He points to the State Board of Medical Examiners and says they should crackdown on the crooked doctors who are handing out medical cards to people who don't have medical problems.
    
     He also says those fighting against medical marijuana are making claims they can't back up, "they're trying to steer public opinion against us without any real facts."

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