Colorado is proposing a first-in-the-nation system to track medical marijuana "from seed to sell," a state spokeswoman said.State regulators propose a network of video surveillance systems where agents can remotely monitor medical pot farms, patient purchases, even the baking of marijuana brownies, said Julie Postlethwait, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue's new Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division.The goal is to prevent people from using forged medical marijuana patient cards and to swiftly track down pot contaminated with mold or tainted marijuana food products and oils, she said. "We want to protect the patient. This is medicine," Postlethwait said."This in the long run legitimizes and helps the industry," she added. "They're caregivers. They want to provide the best quality medicine out there." Yet, medical marijuana advocates say the all-seeing surveillance system smacks of Big Brother watching patients and worry it will drive up the cost of pot for patients living on fixed incomes."There is no conceivable justification for this system," said Robert Chase, a leader of the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers. "It does beyond the systems that we use to control opiate narcotic drugs, which are demonstrably much, much more dangerous.""There are valid concerns about the Big Brother issue," Chase said.He cited a state proposal to require cannabis to be transported in tamper-proof containers and make pot grower and dispensary employees provide fingerprints at each transfer in the supply chain."It's a highly intrusive process of having to give fingerprints and being under constant video surveillance. It invokes George Orwell's '1984,'" Chase said."The whole thing is preposterous," he said.The state Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division was created by legislation to strengthen the growing industry's oversight. It was passed by lawmakers earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter Gov. on June 7.The agency has formed a working group comprised of medical marijuana industry leaders, caregivers, patients, doctors and law enforcement officials who are drafting proposed rules to implement the new law, Postlethwait said.The state views the surveillance proposal for medical marijuana as similar to its electronic monitoring of high-security casino cashier rooms.The public can attend, but not address, the Medical Marijuana Work Group's hearings on Oct. 4 and Oct. 21 at 1881 Pierce St. in Lakewood, Postlethwait said.The Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation will provided same-day broadcasts of the work group meetings at www.commr.org.
The public can speak on the draft medical marijuana enforcement rules at hearings, yet to be scheduled, later this year, Postlethwait said.You can read the initial draft rules at the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division website.