Colorado legislators have introduced a bill to require more reporting from cannabis businesses and lessen their influence on the rulemaking process, according to a Westword report. The measure requires the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) to track and publish online all underage sales violations, contaminated product recalls, and reported illicit market activity.
Supporters say the bill will help protect Colorado children but cannabis advocates fear the bill is an attempt to further restrict the nation’s first adult-use market, the report says.
“It doesn’t change regulation. It’s about making sure the MED has the resources they need to do these (underage) checks,” bill sponsor Sen. Chris Hansen (D) said. “It’s the availability and accessibility [of violation information] and putting it on par with what we’re doing in tobacco and alcohol.”
Although MED underage checks found few violations in the past three years — in 2022 the pass rate was 95% and 97% in 2021 and 2019 — the number of checks fell from 604 in 2019 to 104 in 2021 to 80 in 2022, which concerns lawmakers. The MED says the drop was due to “COVID-related impacts,” and the department “intends to increase the number of underage sales checks to align more closely with prior years.”
The bi-partisan group of sponsors wants that increase written into law, which would require every dispensary in Colorado to get at least two underage sales checks per year. Colorado has over 1,000 licensed dispensaries but some are not operational, Westword reports.
Peter Marcus, communications director for Boulder-based dispensary chain, Terrapin Care Station, told Westword the bill “does nothing to increase accountability in terms of access for children.” He believes “responsible messaging works,” pointing out studies that show fewer kids are using cannabis since legalization in the state. He also calls into question the wisdom of using minors in sting operations for an over-21 product.
Additionally, the proposal asks regulators to curtail the amount of influence that the cannabis industry has on the state’s rule-making process. The proposal would also open a bidding process to find a new vendor to manage the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system, which is currently administered by Meta-C.
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