Colorado Marijuana Tour Freaks Out, Confuses Massachusetts Lawmakers

Last month, we reported about a Colorado marijuana fact-finding mission involving officials from Indio, California.

Their tour featured plenty of input from local law-enforcement reps who emphasized problems with legal cannabis — and afterward, Indio's city council authored a proposal to ban medical marijuana there.

A similar journey through the Colorado marijuana business was conducted last week by a gaggle of state senators from Massachusetts, which will consider a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana during the 2016 election.

And once again, the visiting politicos appear to have focused more on negatives than positives — with at least one of them seeming completely befuddled by what he saw.

The jaunt was led by Massachusetts state senator Jason Lewis, who kept constituents abreast of developments while in Colorado via his Facebook page.

On January 11, he posted this photo.... well as the following caption: "I'm very pleased to offer opening remarks kicking off the Massachusetts Senate's fact-finding trip on marijuana issues in Colorado this week. Proud to be joined by a number of thoughtful, dedicated colleagues as we learn about other states' experiences and best practices."

Lewis tagged the following cohorts on the image: Senator Richard J. Ross, Senator Mike Moore, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, John Keenan, Jim Welch, Michael Rodrigues and State Senator Vinny deMacedo.

He followed up with this post: "Day 2 of our Massachusetts Senate delegation fact-finding trip on marijuana issues in Colorado this week began with a visit to the Evolab extraction facility to learn more about the process for producing and applications for use of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis concentrates."

Also included was this photo....

...and this one:

A subsequent post noed: "Day 3 of our Massachusetts Senate delegation fact-finding trip on marijuana issues in Colorado included meetings with agricultural regulatory experts and legislative leaders offering insights on everything from pesticides to home growing to industry best practices."

This pic accompanied the item:

The media in Massachusetts documented the tour, too.

And the results weren't always flattering.

For instance, the Boston Globe quoted State Senator John F. Keenan asking the following questions during a dispensary visit: "If I were to buy this, what would I do with it? Do I crush it? Roll it? Do I..."

Later, Keenan put this question to a story employee: "Do you sell...the balm?"

These lines were cited in a High Times article that dubbed Keenan and company "clueless."

As for Lewis, an interview with Massachusetts' State House News Service about his journey found him emphasizing the potency of marijuana currently being sold in Colorado — and wondering whether it might be too strong for his state.

"I think we would have hard questions to wrestle with there as to what products might cross the line in terms of whether they would be considered legal products for sale," he told the publication.

He added: "I think what we learned is that that is really just the tippity tip of the iceberg. And even that is not actually an accurate reflection of what it means today — what marijuana is all about today. Because people today, for the most part they aren't even smoking marijuana. They're vaping it. They're dabbing it. They're eating it. They're drinking it. It's even infused into energy drinks for example.

"So even the notion of like smoking a joint is out of date and it's so different today in terms of what products are available and how it's consumed,"

Lewis's words imply that he wasn't exactly reassured by the way Colorado is handling limited legal marijuana sales.

Rather, he's more freaked out about the prospect than ever.

Look below to see raw footage of a Lewis dispensary visit courtesy of WBUR in Boston.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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