State tightens up
On the heels of a USA Today/Suffolk University poll of Coloradans that showed 49 percent disagree with the way the state has handled marijuana regulations come two efforts to curb access.
• News of the first development broke Monday, with the Associated Press reporting that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had issued a recommendation to state marijuana regulators that all edibles be banned from store shelves except isolated products like lozenges and select liquids. The Denver Police Department recently issued a warning to parents regarding marijuana edibles that look like Halloween candy, and this follows similar reasoning about harm to children.
Following a heated meeting, the health department reversed course, however, with the governor's office saying it did not support a blanket ban and stakeholders worrying that a homemade black market would spring up. Efforts now turn to how to distinguish edibles from regular products.
• Next comes word that Democratic state Sen. Irene Aguilar is set to co-sponsor a bill that would mandate medical-marijuana caregivers register with the state in an attempt to limit how many plants are grown (and, so goes the theory, diverted to the black market). The bill comes at the recommendation of a legislative committee."If a person fails to register after such 10 days, the state health agency and licensing authority shall prohibit the person from ever registering and acting as a primary caregiver," reads a draft of the bill.
In an emailed statement sent in response to questions from the Independent, Michael Elliott, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, writes: "While we have seen caregivers provide critical help to patients in need, we have also seen black market operators abusing the caregiver program to illegally sell marijuana. The state legislature will have a difficult balancing act with this bill."
The bill would also mandate the state adopt new rules tightening MMJ access for reasons of "severe pain," in an attempt to drive any recreational users toward the higher taxes in the RMJ market. Currently, 93 percent of registered patients statewide say they're using marijuana for severe pain.
• The city of Colorado Springs' 2014 budget projects that licensing fees collected by the city will increase from $360,000 last year to $400,000, which would mean more MMJ centers are opening.
• Since those in the industry are forced to deal in large amounts of cash due to a lack of available banking, the state Department of Revenue has issued new guidelines for accepting payments, in addition to building bigger windows to accept the receptacles of money. "Buckets and boxes" of money will not be accepted, however, and the amount will be run through a counting machine twice while the cash presenter watches.