THE BLOG

The Great Smoke-In, or, Finding Common Ground on Medical Marijuana

Mar 18, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

All kidding aside, the problem in the medical marijuana debate is that it's very hard to represent a group of patients who are afraid to come out of the shadows to share their needs and their pain, and the benefits they get from medical marijuana. A legislative process is best when there are two fully represented stakeholder groups that can debate the merits of compromise and finding common ground.

I get hundreds of emails from patients whose general medical doctor will not write a referral and are therefore forced to use the common doc-in-the-box dispensary model. Most of them are unwilling to publicly share their stories in a traditional committee hearing process. So while the great smoke-in is of course an attempt to use humor and exaggeration to make a serious point, as Susan Greene quoted me in her Denver Post column (read the whole piece), maybe in this discussion there will be a magical breakthrough - and we as legislators will find a better way to listen.

"Even though there's some levity about all this, I'm serious as a heart attack," he says. "We need to get marijuana patients and legislators together in this building, open up this conversation and figure out how to work this out."

As Romer sees it, visiting dispensaries -- as members of Denver's City Council have done while contemplating their own regulations -- isn't enough to fully understand the implications of regulating medical marijuana.

His vision isn't of lava lamps and munchies.

The legislature might set a day to invite patients to the state Capitol and give them a safe place to tell their stories and "share their medicine."

[...]

"Maybe sometime, maybe, in this discussion, there will be a magical breakthrough," he says. "Sometimes, we as legislators need to find better ways to listen."