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Some Lawmakers Want Medical Pot Grow Operations Enclosed, Locked

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - A bill at the state Capitol would require medical marijuana home grows to be enclosed and locked.

Supporters say the goal is to keep pot out of the hands of children. The law already requires recreational pot plants to be enclosed and locked, but medical marijuana can be grown out in the open.

Drug investigators say children are picking marijuana out of backyards and taking it to school.

Sgt. Jim Gerhardt showed a Senate committee pictures of backyard medical marijuana grows, one of them right beside a middle school.

"Kids going to middle school were walking through the greenbelt ... and they were reaching over the fence and grabbing handfuls of marijuana," he said.

Gerhardt says the bill simply aligns medical pot regulations with recreational pot.

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Sen. Linda Newell, the bill's sponsor, says it's about child safety.

"Colorado has the highest use rates of marijuana among youth in the country," Newell said.

But opponents say it's patients who will be hurt. Terri Robinett told the committee, "This bill will reduce access for patients, there's no way around it. It will reduce access and it will increase cost."

Opponents argue stealing pot from someone's backyard is already illegal. They say the bill is meant to curb home grows.

"We have to look at cannabis for what it is. It's a non-toxic benign plant," said medical marijuana advocate Jason Warf.

Warf says if the state is going to require medical pot to be locked up, why not other medicine?

"The medical and recreational systems are two separate systems," Robinett told the committee.

But Eric Bergman with Colorado Counties Inc. says children don't differentiate between medical and recreational pot plants.

"I understand the importance of medical marijuana and what it means to some people; a lot passion involved that is lost on kids walking past a grow," Bergman said.

The bill passed the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee 5-4 and is headed to the full Senate.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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