The Future of Medical Marijuana Regulations: Colorado or Connecticut?

Many medical marijuana leaders cite Colorado as the quintessential example of how to effectively regulate the MMJ industry. The state, after all, avoided the problems plaguing other areas with lax or murky medical marijuana laws – think California and Michigan – by implementing strict regulations. And it adopted a for-profit model, to boot.

But the newest states to pass medical cannabis dispensary laws, such as Connecticut, are charting their own course. They are using Colorado as a rough guide but adding their own set of restrictions, rules and regulations. The result: A different – and in some cases stricter – regulatory model that could become the standard going forward. And Colorado could remain alone in the for-profit column for the foreseeable future, as most states that recently approved or are considering medical marijuana laws have taken the non-profit route.

This has many implications for the national MMJ industry. On one hand, it will bring credibility and clarity to MMJ businesses, helping create a more predictable and stable business climate. It also will lower some of the risks involved and relieve some pressure from the federal government.

On the other hand, it will limit business opportunities and boost the barriers to entry, making it much harder and more costly to participate. In other words, the overall market will be somewhat limited, and you’ll need access to lots of cash and other business resources to start an MMJ venture. Larger, well-funded enterprises could end up dominating the industry in time.

States with dispensary programs in the works – such as Rhode Island and Vermont – severely limit the number of cultivation operations and medical marijuana centers, as does newcomer Washington DC Arizona allows for a much larger number of dispensaries but still sets a cap of 126. Connecticut, which just passed medical marijuana laws, requires that dispensaries be owned and operated by pharmacists, while New Jersey’s program sets potency limits.

Some states currently considering medical marijuana legislation are looking to go even further. The sponsor of an MMJ measure that just passed the New York State Assembly, for instance, dubbed it the “strictest” in the nation. Whether that’s true is debatable, but the point is clear: Lawmakers see heavy restrictions and regulations as a necessity to passage.

5 comments on “The Future of Medical Marijuana Regulations: Colorado or Connecticut?
  1. Doug Banfelder on

    Good commentary, Chris.

    I agree about lawmakers’ desire to tout the “strictest program in the nation” line; no doubt it helps sway persuadable fellow lawmakers into supporting the bill in question.

    Same for their constituents – assurances of how “strict” a program will be reduces community backlash.

    From all appearances the California model is well on the way out, as even CA lawmakers are seeking to implement new regulations (probably NOT “strictest in the nation”, but a significant departure from current circumstance) and that’s likely the best path if we truly wish to bring cannabis to the masses.

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  2. Pablo on

    it makes sense that Colorado is the only state that has legalized MMJ by initiative, approved by the voters, and made part of the constitution. Out and out legalization is coming, and strict medical rules will become obsolete.

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  3. Bud Green on

    It will be interesting to see whether those business models avoid the federal crackdown that’s targeting dispensaries in California and, yes, Colorado. It’s not a rhetorical question, either; a bill to tighten California’s regulations has passed the Assembly, but many MMJ advocates question whether the proposed regs will restrict access to patients while doing nothing to keep the feds at bay.

    Put simply, the feds can’t have it both ways. They can’t pick and choose which state-authorized dispensaries are legal under federal law. None of them are, as we’ve been hearing ad nauseam for years, so what makes either Colorado or Connecticut special?

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  4. Pamela Woodard on

    The not for profit model is nonsense, why in the heck should an entire industry be dictated into a model that in no way is truely representative of that industry. Dictating a non profit model is prejudice at best!!! Big Pharma is for profit, even though it shouldent be healthcare is for profit fact is cannabis should be completely legal for everyone and those who need it for medical purposes should have it covered by their RX plan as a prescribed over the counter medication period.
    The willful and deliberate actions of our elected bodies nationally and at each state level to keep aknowledging and giving weight to 74 years worth of pure propaganda and helping to surpress truth when they have a duty to seek truth and aknowlege it should be a punishable offense. These are educated career politicians if they want to be respected as the educated people they are supposed to be then anyone of them claiming legetimacy of cannabis prohibition from its onset deserves to be called out in public to defend everything I am posting below:

    1898
    Hearst newspapers denounce Spaniards, Mexican-Americans, and Latinos after the seizure of 800,000 acres of Hearst-owned prime Mexican timber land by the ‘marijuana smoking army of Pancho Villa.’
    Vigorous slander of the Mexican people continues in Hearst and other publications for three decades. Because of Hearst’s personal prejudices against African-Americans and Hispanics and Hearst’s covert motivations to link them with the proliferation of an ‘evil drug’, the term ‘marijuana’ — a word totally unfamiliar to the average hemp-using American — is used exclusively to identify hemp throughout this public disinformation campaign.
    1910 – 1920
    Southern “officials” are alarmed because “pot smoking darkie jazz musicians” are beginning to “think that they are as good as whites.”
    1910
    South Africa begins outlawing marijuana (for the same “Jim Crow” reasons cited by U.S. bigots: to stop the insolence of Blacks) and lobbies the League of Nations to have cannabis outlawed world-wide.
    Many Southern U.S. states are influenced by South Africa and follow suit with prohibitions.
    Black mine workers in South Africa were, however, permitted to continue smoking the herb because it increased their productivity.
    1915
    As a result of Hearst-incited hysteria over “disrespectful darkies” and “lazy Chicanos”, California and Utah pass state laws outlawing the recreational use of marijuana.
    1916 – 1935
    The Hearst newspapers build and initiate a campaign to outlaw “marijuana.” Reporting is slanted to generate reader bias.
    • Readers were never told that “hemp” and “marijuana” are exactly the same plant.
    • Nor were they told that the active ingredients of the tonic they gave their
    baby to ease colic came from the marijuana/hemp plant, nor that the smoke they
    inhaled in their ever popular hashish parlors was a derivative of marijuana.
    • News stories were manipulated to aggrandize and exaggerate the supposed “horrors” of recreational marijuana use. The story of an auto accident where one marijuana cigarette was found would dominate front page headlines for weeks while alcohol related accidents — which outnumbered marijuana 1000 to 1 — were briefly mentioned and buried in the back pages.
    • The rape of a white woman by a “Negro,” previously attributed by Hearst publications to cocaine use, was, by these same publications, suddenly attributed to the use of marijuana.
    1930’s
    Mechanical hemp-fiber stripping and pulp conserving machines are invented and developed to state-of-the-art.
    Timber-based paper manufacturing industries recognize the combined technological advances of the hemp industry as a potential threat to their prosperity.
    DuPont patents two new chemically intense processes; one to make plastics from oil and coal and another to make paper from pulp-wood.
    1930
    U.S. Government sponsors the Siler Commission study on the effects of off-duty smoking of “marijuana” (hemp buds & leaves) by American servicemen in Panama. The report concludes that such recreational smoking is not a problem and recommends that no criminal penalties apply to its use.
    1930
    Louis Armstrong is arrested and jailed for 10 days for smoking marijuana cigarettes.
    1931
    Andrew Mellon (of the powerful Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh, financier of many DuPont projects, and long-time supporter of Hearst), serving as President Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury, appoints his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger to be head of the newly reorganized Federal Narcotics Bureau.
    Anslinger begins to compile a dossier of tabloid articles which sensationalize disinformation about marijuana use and the crimes committed while supposedly under the influence of the drug. This collection of newspaper clippings (most from Hearst newspapers) becomes known as the “Gore Files”.
    1935 – 1937
    DuPont assures Congress, during secret testimony, that synthetic petro-chemical oils can replace hemp seed oil in paints, varnishes, and other products.
    1936 – 1938
    Hearst newspapers step-up the anti-marijuana campaign and newsreel clips at the local movie bear headlines like “Reefer Madness” and “Marijuana — Assassin of Youth.”
    1937
    Walter Treadway, Assistant U.S. Surgeon General, tells the Cannabis Advisory Subcommittee of the League of Nations that extended use of cannabis derivatives is benign, both socially and emotionally, and that marijuana is habit forming…in the same sense…as sugar or coffee.
    The DuPont Company issues its Annual Report to stockholders which anticipates “radical changes” and the conversion of the Federal government’s revenue raising power ‘into an instrument for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization.’ In other words, government would no longer tax citizens solely to raise money but to enforce the adoption (or extinction) of selected social ‘norms’.
    April 14, 1937
    The Marijuana Tax Law is introduced to the House Ways and Means Committee of Congress, chaired by Robert L. Doughton, a key DuPont ally.
    In subsequent committee hearings, Dr. James Woodward, speaking for the American Medical Association (AMA), testifies against the proposed legislation stating that the plant Congress intends to outlaw is a perfectly safe substance used to treat scores of illnesses for over 100 years in America and that the ignorance of the proposed prohibition will deny the world access to potential medical breakthroughs. Dr Wodward is denounced by Anslinger and the congressional committee, then curtly excused.
    Ralph Lorenz, head of the general council of the National Oil Seeds Institute (which represents the interests of high quality machine lubrication producers and paint manufacturers) also lobbies against the proposed legislation, eloquently citing the key importance of the hemp plant to American industry and reviewing the thousands of years of benign use of hemp by millions of people world-wide.
    After receiving testimony from Anslinger who cites marijuana as “the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind,” reviewing Anslinger’s “Gore Files” (which were later debunked by evidentiary scholars), and hearing a false, dishonest and intentionally misleading report from the Ways and Means Committee that the AMA is in “complete agreement” with the proposed marijuana legislation, the Marijuana Tax Act is adopted by Congress.
    The legislation is carefully worded so that the great majority of American people, including many of the members of congress who voted to pass the law, have no idea that the agricultural hemp industry is being legislated into extinction. Popularity of DuPont’s “plastic fibers” (like nylon) begins to dramatically increase.
    1944
    The “LaGuardia Marijuana Report,” compiled between 1938 and 1944 by the New York Academy of Medicine at the request of Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia, is released to refute Anslinger’s negative claims about marijuana. It reports that marijuana use has caused no violence at all and cites numerous instances of beneficial effects.
    Anslinger denounces the Mayor, the report, and the Academy, proclaiming that the involved doctors will never again do marijuana research without his personal permission, or they will be sent to jail.
    1945
    With Anslinger’s coercive manipulation the AMA conducted what has since been labeled a “gutter science” study to refute the LaGuardia Report. Using biased techniques which predetermined the outcome of the research, this prejudicial study, conducted with enlisted Army men, concluded that 34 Negro males who smoked marijuana were “disrespectful” of white soldiers and officers.
    1948 – 1950
    Anslinger has a sudden change of heart about the violence inducing properties of marijuana and, in a complete about-face from his previous position, testifies before a strongly anti-Communist Congress that marijuana causes users to become so peaceful and pacifistic that use of the herb by soldiers will weaken their will to fight ‘The Great Red Communist Plague.’
    1950’s – 1960’s
    The U.S. Army sponsors numerous tests to determine the effects of cannabis smoking on soldiers. The first study showed no loss of motivation or performance after two years of continual “heavy” smoking. This study is replicated six more times by independent universities, always with the same basic findings.
    1961 – 1962
    Anslinger is forced to retire as head of the Federal Narcotics Bureau (now the DEA) by President Kennedy after trying to censor the publications and blackmail and harass the publishers of Professor Alfred Lindsmith of Indiana University who wrote, among other works, “The Addict and the Law” (Washington Post, 1961).
    U.S. Medical research in the beneficial properties of cannabis resumes after nearly 3 decades of Anslinger’s prohibition.
    Credible sources report that President Kennedy routinely uses marijuana to relieve his back pain and plans to have the drug legalized. These plans are terminated by his assassination.
    1964
    The Himalayan region of Bangladesh (from “bhang” cannabis, “la” land, and “desh” people) signs an anti-drug pact with the U.S., agreeing not to grow hemp.
    Since that time there has been only light moss covering the steep slopes of this flash-flood region which once were lush with hardy hemp. Millions of acres of topsoil have been washed away and native peoples of the country have suffered disease, starvation, and decimation due to unrestrained flooding.

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  5. KC on

    Working with patients every day allows great insights that go beyond ‘the news.’

    Colorado is (no numbers required) now the leading medical marijuana market in America, and I would argue the world.

    Colorado is the king of medical marijuana industry development in America: licensed, approved, regulated, taxed, and respected to a degree (but not accessible to big pharma!)

    In many ways, medical marijuana has grown beyond numbers and digits – it has become in many communities in Colorado a part of accepted daily life.

    That is revolutionary in America’s modern history!

    Each day I speak with patients that are coming here to purge themselves of hard addictive medicines given to them over the years.

    I’ve met vets from as far back as the Korean War to the 21 year old suffering from MS, medical marijuana is becoming a part of life for many Americans.

    I do offer a warning; as we’ve seen in California – medical marijuana expansion can go too far – too fast for some (the feds, the courts, and local authorities.)

    My concern is that “Amendment 64 Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” in Colorado could produce a very short lived victory (yea, we won! let’s all get high!) to a wicked hangover (oh shite, the feds are here) ending in a federal crackdown followed by local authorities voting to shut them all down (see California.)

    Thus, the end of the king. Game over.

    I hope I’m wrong, but if I’m right – watch out center owners, watch out caregivers, Voting YES on 64 could actually produce a very harsh, prompt and devastating result – the end of ALL marijuana (recreational and medical) in Colorado.

    I support legalization when the feds, the courts, and the industry are ready.

    Now is NOT the time in Colorado.

    Center owners and patients are just now starting to find stability, affordability, and accessibility to America’s most advance medical marijuana.

    California was the queen of medical marijuana. Colorado is the king.

    If this were a game of chess? I’d suggest protecting your king.

    Vote ‘no’ on Amendment 64 Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

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