The murder of marjiuana advocate Ken Gorman in Colorado two weeks ago could lead to a re-examination of the way medical marijuana is dispensed, say experts quoted by the New York Times. Gorman, 60, legally provided marijuana to patients under Colorado's medical marijuana law, but he also openly preached the virtues of illegal use. In recent years, he had grown frightened as the mainstream medicine of cannabis care bumped against the unregulated and violent terrain of the illicit drug market. He had been robbed more than a dozen times in his Denver home, had obtained a gun and also talked of installing a steel door and gates.
Marijuana providers often are left exposed and vulnerable because of the nation's conflicting drug laws, with marijuana use illegal under federal law but legalized for some medicinal purposes here and in 10 other states. Since 1997, after the first medical marijuana law was passed in California, as many as 20 legal marijuana providers have been killed, mostly in robberies, said Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Some in law enforcement, including Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, say the Gorman killing illuminates more clearly than ever that crime and marijuana cannot be disentangled. People in the medical marijuana supply system say the central risk comes down to the fact that they work in the shadows, where law enforcement officials are often either conflicted or hostile and crime is rampant.