Marijuana: Responsible vendors bill modeled on alcohol program, advocate says

Yesterday, we told you about the medical-marijuana-related responsible vendors bill. And while the measure, which is about to face its first committee test, has garnered less attention than, for instance, MMJ banking and THC driving standards proposals, it's got some high-profile advocates, including Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente. Why does he favor the legislation?

"I think it's just another example of the medical marijuana industry in Colorado taking steps to be responsible community members," says Vicente of the measure, sponsored by Senator Lois Tochtrop. "It would be an avenue for additional professional training for people who work in this industry. I think it provides an excellent opportunity for them to professionalize the work they're doing, and professionalize the entire industry."

As we've reported, the legislation would direct the state to authorize a server and seller training program with a core curriculum focusing on licenses, records keeping, privacy issues, criminal liability, acceptable forms of ID and more. Taking part would win shops brownie points with the state: If a business committed a regulatory violation, participation in the program could be taken into account when doling out sanctions.

Vicente notes that this approach is hardly unprecedented.

"It's modeled after the responsible vendor program that's been in place regarding alcohol sales in Colorado for quite a while," he points out. "Basically, either medical marijuana business owners or employees would have the opportunity to enroll in professional development programs that are sanctioned by the state government, to learn about the various regulations and laws that provide guidance for this industry. And if businesses or individuals who graduate from those programs later face any administrative practices -- if they accidentally stay open until 7:01 p.m., for example -- this would be a mitigating factor in the decision to sanction those individuals. It basically shows that they went through this best-practices course, engaged in professional development, and should maybe be given a second chance if they engaged in some minor violation of state regulations."

Vicente echoes Tochtrop's belief that because those taking the courses would cover their costs, there would be no fiscal cost to the state -- a key factor given the tightness of the current budget. And if the measure passes, he expects the idea to catch on elsewhere.

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"This is a pretty unique bill in the medical marijuana world, and I think it shows Colorado is again attempting to really lead the way in common-sense medical marijuana distribution," he maintains. "I'm not aware of any other state taking this on, but there's a real template in the alcohol industry. It's worked in the past, which is why I think it has a good chance of passing. It's a responsible step forward."

The bill is expected to be heard tomorrow by the business, labor and technology committee, on which Tochtrop sits. Read it below.

Senate Bill 12-154

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana banking bill dies in Senate committee."

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