I met with Colorado attorney Brian Vicente yesterday for the first time, dropping by his office in downtown Denver to formally introduce myself and pick his brain about the medical marijuana industry. It was long overdue. I’ve read his quotes in plenty of news reports about pot, and someone mentions his name at nearly every function I attend.
Vicente has been involved with the industry for quite some time and recently formed Vicente Consulting, which provides legal services and guidance to medical marijuana centers and related companies. He’s also one of the main forces behind a move to get a measure on the ballot next year that would pave the way for the recreational use of marijuana.
Here are some of the highlights from our conversation:
– Vicente sees a bright future for medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado – even though many are losing money as they adapt to new rules that took effect July 1. Those that survive this turbulent time, Vicente says, will probably make a decent amount of money when the dust settles. The regulations will weed out the weaker dispensaries and leave a solid core of strong players. So if your dispensary is drowning in red ink, try to hang on.
– While it’s hard to get an exact number at this point, Vicente has heard through the grapevine that some dispensaries have closed since new regulations went into effect in Colorado on July 1. The reason: They don’t have the resources or cash to meet the requirements. One figure going around puts the number of closures at about 50. Vicente, however, doubts it is this high, saying that industry contraction will likely play out over a longer period of time.
– Colorado voters seem ready to fully embrace pot. Vicente said polls taken in January and March indicate that more than 50 percent of voters would back legislation to tax and regulate marijuana like liquor.
– While some people in the medical marijuana industry freaked out over a new memo from the federal government indicating that dispensaries could be prosecuted even if they’re following state laws, the reaction in Colorado was muted. Vicente said he did receive some calls and emails from dispensaries asking for guidance. But most people simply shrugged it off.
Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily