How the Colorado marijuana business works
MARIJUANA is now legal on Colorado. How does the market work? Tony Dokoupil explains:
After Eric Holder and the Obama administration suggested that they weren’t going to crack down on medical marijuana, everybody and their brother grabbed a trash bag full of weed out of their backyard and were like, ‘All right, medical marijuana here for sale!’ … Then Colorado was really interesting … because there’s a core of young, educated, politically connected and well-financed guys who said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. We can’t have former black market drug dealers and bikini girls as the face of our industry, because the community’s not going to accept it.
“So they partnered with law enforcement. They partnered with state legislators. They hired incredibly high-level political consultants and lobbyists who have worked nationally. And they are the inside force that led to the creation of Colorado’s regulated medical marijuana industry, which is unlike any in the country and which will be the basis for the legalized, regulated market. And so in response to the craziness that we saw in 2009 … a movement toward controlled, regulated, not-in-your-face, nonconfrontational pot culture has begun.”
Are you listening, David Cameron. This is how you do it:
So in Colorado, the medical marijuana growers have to have 24-hour video of their operations, and that video is accessible by the state at any time — they can tap into it. And they all have these badges, and they had to go through background checks to get these badges. So there’s an attempt to keep black market money out of it … [I]n Colorado, you’re unlikely to see a situation where a dispensary is, in fact, just a front for a Mexican cartel. And then they had this additional rule, which is pretty revolutionary — it’s called a 70-30 rule, where 70 percent of all the marijuana that each store sells, they have to grow themselves. … That goes a long way to eliminating the introduction of black market weed. …
That’s a huge reason why the feds have focused on California.
California doesn’t have tight regulations on who grows marijuana, where it comes from. So the feds move in, and what they claim is that these med marijuana businesses are fronts for what are in fact just old-school black market drug dealers. And they’re not growing medical marijuana in small batches for patients. They’re growing it in Mexico, or they’re growing it in the hills, and they’re just bringing it in, and it suddenly, magically becomes legal once it gets in the store. But in fact, it’s based on illegality. Colorado doesn’t have that.
And so the long-term worry is that you have sophisticated marketing programs in place, distribution programs in place, that create a double or tripling of the current level of marijuana usage. And … by the way, Americans [already] use marijuana at triple the global average. So we’re talking about a tripling of a tripling, and that’s a big deal. It’s something to think about, which is why many people are in favor of — or I believe will become more in favor of as they realize the risks — of severe limitations on the size of marijuana businesses and the advertising that they can undertake.”
Yep. Colorado is the model…
Photo:People attending an Amendment 64 watch party in a bar celebrate after a local television station announced the marijuana amendment’s passage, in Denver, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The amendment would make it legal in Colorado for individuals to possess and for businesses to sell marijuana for recreational use. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)