Earlier this month, we told you about a provision hidden within the so-called Sunset bill that, in practical terms, would let marijuana tourists purchase four times as much cannabis during a single purchase than is currently allowable under Colorado law.
That legislation, known as House Bill 16-1261, has now passed both houses of the Colorado legislature. With the (expected) signature of Governor John Hickenlooper, it will become state law.
This development is seen as a positive by the Cannabis Business Alliance — and CBA executive director/iComply CEO Mark Slaugh is also pleased by the approval of Senate Bill 40, known as the Ownership Bill. Under its provisions, out-of-staters will be able to own marijuana businesses in Colorado, something that had previously been verboten.
Below, see the Alliance's take on impending laws, as well as items and amendments that didn't pass, accompanied by statements from Slaugh.
The Retail Marijuana Sunset Bill (HB 1261)
The Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) applauds the Assembly for its prudent review of the Sunset Bill.
The Sunset Bill included a section that eliminated the differential between resident and non-resident purchasing limits. Under the new amendment, non-residents would be able to purchase the same amount of product as residents, up to one ounce (or its equivalent) of marijuana.
“Inconsistent purchasing regulations didn’t make sense for the industry because having two different purchasing limits turned every transaction into an algebra equation,” Slaugh added. “The regulation was enacted because Colorado wanted to be extra diligent about diversion. However, as other states, such as Oregon and Washington, came online without differing purchasing regulations, we were able to see that tourists were not causing the diversion problem. Diversion is actually a result of the black market.”
The proposed Potency Amendment to the Marijuana Sunset Bill was left off the bill and will not be able to be brought into this session. The Potency Amendment would have required CDPHE to evaluate the current Cannabis potency limits, and further limit the potency of Cannabis and Cannabis products.
“In 2013, Colorado residents voted for Amendment 64, which requires the state to regulate marijuana like alcohol. This attempt to introduce potency limits by prohibitionists would be the equivalent of limiting all liquor in Colorado to 3.2 percent beer. We applaud the committee members for realizing this underhanded attempt at crippling the industry and protecting the will of voters by denying this amendment to the retail code,” Slaugh remarked.
Cannabis Business Alliance worked with the legislature to approve an amendment to keep the most basic labeling requirements in the statute intact, but to entrust the rule-making process to collaborate, re-examine, and determine simplified and effective labeling standards.
“CBA is committed to consumer safety and transparency. We know that existing labels contain an enormous amount of information, some of which is redundant, that can confuse consumers and achieve the opposite effect from the intention of the law,” Slaugh added. “Our hope is to be able to work with regulators and safety experts in being able to determine the right amount of information and messaging needed for Cannabis products to achieve a more effective paradigm for Cannabis package labeling.”
As more states legalize the production of Cannabis, many cultivators grapple with the issue of managing pests in an industry that has no federal oversight. In order to keep patients and consumers safe, the industry must tackle best practices and testing for pest management. Colorado would have been the first state to regulate organic labels in the Cannabis industry, but unfortunately, Colorado lawmakers rejected the Organic bill.
“The Cannabis industry wants to comply and work with the government to provide proper regulations to businesses across the state. However, the government needs to remain objective and address certifying labs for pesticide testing as well as implement standard guidelines for the industry to follow,” Slaugh said.
Ownership Bill (SB 40)
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Under current law, an owner of a medical or retail marijuana business must have been a Colorado resident for at least two years prior to applying for licensure. The Ownership Bill allows an owner to be either a two-year resident of Colorado or a United States citizen on the date of the application. It also prohibits an owner from being a publicly traded company, protecting the small business owners in the Cannabis industry. The bill requires a controlling interest of the licensees, as determined by the operating agreement, to be Colorado residents and maintain that residency while licensed.
"Now that Colorado has led the way and gained effective control and transparency of Cannabis businesses and the industry, we must remain competitive with emerging state markets like Nevada, Oregon, and even Texas, which have municipalities that will all allow outside money to be vetted and injected into their respective Cannabis industries. The State of Colorado must be able to expand on the success of our $1 billion industry as we continue to grow, consolidate and position ourselves for expansion into other markets both nationally and internationally," Slaugh noted.