He opposed it as Denver’s district attorney, but Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is now turning to medical marijuana to heal the state budget, says the Denverf Post. The plan Ritter announced yesterday to bridge a nearly $60 million shortfall in the current budget year relies on $9 million from the state’s Medical Marijuana Program Cash Fund, financed by fees on patients who get cards to use medical pot. With the number of applicants for medical-marijuana cards expected to double to 150,000 this year, there will still be about $1 million left in the fund even after $9 million is swept from it.
Ritter said that no matter what he thought about medical marijuana as a prosecutor when voters approved it under Amendment 20 in 2000, it’s legal now, and he has a budget to balance. “I was not in favor of medical marijuana, but I’m also a lawyer and the governor,” Ritter said, “and I believe in the law. And it’s the law in this state.” The state used $3 million from the fund last year to help balance the budget. Even so, Ritter said using the pot money was just a one-time solution. “Truly, we find ourselves in difficult, difficult budget circumstances,” he said.