Chris Walsh: Fed Up With Medical Marijuana Regulations in Colorado? It Could Be Worse

When I heard it the first time, I made a simple mental note. When someone else said it, I jotted down a reminder in my trusty reporter’s notebook to follow up on the issue. When a third person lauded Colorado’s regulatory structure during the Medical Marijuana Conference in San Francisco this week, one thought occurred to me: column material.

To get you up to speed, the conference I’m attending has brought together a nice cross-section of the industry, including everyone from dispensary owners, growers and edibles companies to investors, bankers, consultants and insurance agents. The two-day event, which wraps up this afternoon, features panel discussions and speeches by leaders in the field.

One thing I noticed is that several industry players mentioned during panel discussions that they are envious of Colorado’s regulatory structure.

In Denver, I constantly hear everyone moaning about how burdensome and costly the state’s regulations are, especially the new set of rules that will go into effect in about two weeks. But, my friends, the weed is always greener on the other side. While dispensary owners in Denver think they operate under a crushing set of rules and regulations, marijuana professionals in other states wish they had something as structured and legitimate as the framework in Colorado.

The reason is simple: Colorado’s regulations, the thinking goes, help organize the industry and – most importantly – could protect owners from federal prosecution because of the strict nature of the rules themselves. They also e nsure that responsible business people are running dispensaries, which helps push the shady players out of the business.

I have said numerous times in this blog that I believe, as a whole, the regulations in Colorado are beneficial. The best thing the medical marijuana industry can do is gain credibility with the public, city officials and lawmakers. Having dilapidated storefronts on every corner run by sketchy individuals who are selling out the back door is not the way to go. Professionalism is the key, and regulations help make sure that the people operating these businesses are indeed professionals.

I’m glad some other people agree. The bigger issue is whether Colorado’s regulations are so burdensome that they will lead to the industry’s collapse. I do think they are too heavy-handed and that the costs associated with starting a dispensary are unreasonable. But I think only the strong will survive. And in an fledgling industry dealing with a controversial product, perhaps that is the best scenario.

Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily