Colorado Medical Use of Marijuana, Initiative 20 (2000)

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The Colorado Amendment 20, also known as the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, was on the November 7, 2000 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

Election results

Amendment 20
Approveda Yes 915,527 53.8%


Ten years following the approval of Amendment 20, the city of Denver is reported to have 250 dispensary storefronts and 100 in the city of Boulder. The state of Colorado has issued approximately 66,000 cards that allow for card-carrying members to purchase medical marijuana. According to officials an estimated 100,000 state residents can legally buy marijuana. In August 2009 about 270 applications were submitted per day. That number however, has reached an estimated 1,000 applications as of February 2010.[1]

On May 5, 2010 a medical marijuana bill (HB 1284) was approved by the Colorado State Senate bringing dispensaries closer to legal recognition and regulation. Sen. Chris Romer estimates that the new law will cause several dispensaries to close. However, Romer says it's necessary to "get the knuckleheads out of the business." Additionally, the new bill, he said, will help protect legitimate dispensaries from prosecution. Not all lawmakers agreed with the proposed bill, Sen. Scott Renfroe argues that voters never intended to legalize the retail sale of marijuana and the believes the bill is in conflict with the state constitution. The House voted 62 to 3 and the Senate voted 35 to 0 in favor of the new law.[2]

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Analysis by Colorado Legislative Council: Allows patients diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness and their care-givers to legally possess marijuana for medical purposes. For a patient unable to administer marijuana to himself or herself, or for minors under 18, care-givers determine the amount and frequency of use; allows a doctor to legally provide a seriously or chronically ill patient with a written statement that the patient might benefit from medical use of marijuana; and establishes a confidential state registry of patients and their care-givers who are permitted to possess marijuana for medical purposes.

Background and Provisions of the Proposal: Current Colorado and federal criminal law prohibits the possession, distribution, and use of marijuana. The proposal does not affect federal criminal laws, but amends the Colorado Constitution to legalize the medical use of marijuana for patients who have registered with the state. Qualifying medical conditions include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS/HIV, some neurological and movement disorders such as multiple sclerosis, and any other medical condition approved by the state. A doctor's signed statement or a copy of the patient's pertinent medical records indicating that the patient might benefit from marijuana is necessary for a patient to register Individuals on the registry may possess up to two ounces of usable marijuana and six marijuana plants. Because the proposal does not change current law, distribution of marijuana will still be illegal in Colorado.

Patients on the registry are allowed to legally acquire, possess, use, grow, and transport marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia. Employers are not required to allow the medical use of marijuana in the workplace. Marijuana may not be used in any place open to the public, and insurance companies are not required to reimburse a patient's claim for costs incurred through the medical use of marijuana. Finally, for a patient who is under the age of 18, the proposal requires statements from two doctors and written consent from any parent living in Colorado to register the patient.

Fiscal Impact: The Office of State Planning and Budgeting estimates that the measure would have a fiscal impact of $402,299 in fiscal year 1998-99 and $342,157 in fiscal year 1999-2000, attributable to the establishment and administration of a registry in the department of public health and environment. The state health agency is authorized to levy fees to pay direct or indirect administrative costs associated with its role in this program, and the Office of State Planning and Budgeting projects that the registry would be funded solely through such fees on potential registry clients. However, because the criminal penalties are not defined in the measure, the Office of State Planning and Budgeting has stated that the fiscal impact of the measure on the department of public safety, the judicial department, and the department of corrections is indeterminate; accordingly, the overall fiscal impact of the measure on state government for fiscal year 1998-99 is indeterminate.

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