It has been only three years since medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado have sprouted up, but there are already big changes in the works for the cannabis-friendly state.
According to sources, Colorado's medical marijuana industry is so large that sources believe there are around 1,100 dispensaries throughout the state, about 500 of which are in Denver alone.
That is a lot of business for the government to regulate, and because it is still a relatively new industry in the state, it is not surprising that the government is coming up with ways to get a better handle on regulating and safe-guarding the industry. Colorado's chief revenue enforcer Matt Cook, a former narcotics officer, is a driving force behind the upcoming changes.
Colorado's new regulations, most scheduled to be put into action on July 1, 2011, mandate the following:
- The opening of new Colorado dispensaries is put on hold until the summer of 2011.
- Licensing costs for running dispensaries are $7,500 for smaller, first year businesses and up to $18,000 for large dispensary businesses.
- All who want to open and continue running a medical marijuana dispensary business must complete an intensive application that requires thorough background information. Those with drug felonies in their history are not eligible to operate a marijuana dispensary.
- Seventy percent of the marijuana sold in a store is required to have been grown there.
- Products must contain a label that lists the chemicals used to grow it for consumers to see.
- Cook also says that the state plans on playing a sort of Big Brother role regarding the medical marijuana industry; Colorado will use a video surveillance system to basically follow the entire life of all marijuana sold in the state, "from seed to sale."
Proponents of the regulatory changes in Colorado are optimistic that the new rules will make for a safer and more widely respected industry. Opponents, however, are annoyed by the extra steps and costs, which will likely result in less dispensaries opening and remaining open in Colorado.
The Washington Post: Colorado official works to regulate, legitimize medical marijuana industry