UPDATE: Senate Bill 154 wants to help MMJ center owners



UPDATE, Monday, March 12, 3:13 p.m.: We received a voicemail from MMIG's executive director Michael Elliott clarifying that the group actually supports the bill, so long as it's written to include amendments favored by MMIG.

In our conversation with Thomson, she characterized MMIG's amendments as "gutting" the bill, so I'm sure further developments await.



The noisiest thing in the medical marijuana world, right now, is the division among MMJ center owners over the November vote to decriminalize marijuana, and it's all coming from those who oppose the effort.

Folks are afraid that a post-passage world where business owners sell marijuana from their front door could only instantly attract the attention of U.S. Attorney John Walsh and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Also, there's the concern that, since Amendment 64 includes language allowing local communities to vote on whether they want legalized marijuana or not (as they once voted whether MMJ centers were desirable), it might all be for naught in the end. Or, in the realm of unintended consequences, there's a fear the campaign of those who oppose decriminalization will run ads dragging the MMJ industry through the mud.

But in the midst of all that, the Denver-based Cannabis Business Alliance is hoping to push a bill through the Legislature that offers MMJ owners a chance to boost their image with the public, and help their chances with law enforcement should it ever come to that.

Senate Bill 154 details a system where private contractors offer optional training to MMJ center employees. They'd take the probably-$100 training in the first 90 days of their employment and the certification would be good for two years, transferable if the employee changed centers.

The CBA will offer a version of the training, which is currently being written by former state MMJ regulator Matt Cook. For two hours, it would focus on things like how to spot a fake red card, where to place signage and where to store cash.

If all employees at a center pass the training, the center's resulting designation as a "preferred vendor" would be considered a mitigating factor should the owner's actions ever cause them to run afoul of the criminal end of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. It's also something a center could display to the public, similar to a designation from the Better Business Bureau.

"This is new," says lobbyist Kristen Thomson today at meeting with local center owners. "This will be the first of its kind in the country. Ever."

So far the bill is unopposed by legislators, says Thomson, but did suffer a delay the first time it was considered by committee due to last-minute changes introduced by opposing advocacy group Medical Marijuana Industry Group. (We've contacted MMIG for comment and are awaiting a response.)

The vote has been rescheduled to Wednesday, March 14, says Thomson.

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