Businesses planning to give out free product or even just show their buds at the now-annual High Times Cannabis Cup had better think twice, according to a memo issued earlier this month by the Colorado Department of Revenue.
The memo says any shop that displays or gives out bud at the three-day convention could face criminal sanctions from the state. “Your facility must be operated strictly within the law set forth by the Colorado Constitution, Colorado Revised Statutes and the Colorado Code of Regulations,” the department reminds business owners.
After receiving several letters from dispensaries seeking clarification, the department realized it needed to make its position clear, according to the memo signed by Marijuana Enforcement Division head Lewis Koski. “Statute clearly mandates that marijuana produced within the regulated system must remain in the closed system (and only transported between MED licensed premise) until final sale to a patient or customer, and may not be consumed within any licensed premises.”
In short: Since the Cannabis Cup isn’t a state-legal recreational dispensary, you can’t display your pot there. And the state is tightening all the loopholes, too. “Medical or retail marijuana licensee owners or employees should not use personally purchased flower or product as a means to avoid the intent of the statute and regulation prohibiting off-premises display or sale of marijuana,” the memo continues, pointing out that an often-ignored state law prohibits anyone from buying, reselling or “acquiring” medical or retail cannabis products purchased from a dispensary.
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In the memo, Koski suggests that any dispensary still wanting to participate at the Cannabis Cup by handing out fliers or coupons relocate itself outside of the public-consumption area to avoid “any participation in which the licensee might appear to be facilitating potentially illegal conduct.”
Past events have seen dispensaries displaying whole plants at the Cannabis Cup, as well as dispensaries offering up free dabs or hits of herb at their booths. And over the past few weeks, several dispensary owners have taken to Facebook to express their frustration with Koski’s memo, noting that they paid thousands for their booth spots at the Cannabis Cup and thousands more preparing massive displays.
High Times reps have said the Cup and competition will still go on as planned.