The Excessive Regulation of Colorado’s Cannabis Industry
The other day I chatted for an hour with the owner of a well-known dispensary and product line distributor of high-quality cannabis, edibles, oils, clones, seeds, and more here in Colorado. We got into regulation, and he told me a story so ridiculous that I had to write an article about it. He wanted to remain anonymous, in fear of the Marijuana Enforcement Division coming down on him upon seeing this very article.
A couple of years back, the owner created his own genetics line and produced over 100,000 seeds, legally, and followed the MED rules to the T. According to MED standards, the owner packaged the seeds in six packs (ten packs are the norm). So, after he had packaged all 100,000 seeds, the city told him he had to start over and repackage the seeds into ten packs to follow city regulations. Shortly after that, had to repackage the seeds a third time into twelve packs, due to another state agencies’ demands. The whole process cost him tens of thousands of dollars, but he had no choice since he’d already made a huge investment. He sat there with a pill counter for days with other employees, recounting the 100,000 seeds, twice.
A couple of months later, the MED came banging on his door, threatening to cut down 40% of his medical crop because somehow there was an entire month missing on his METRC records for medical cannabis patients. METRC is notorious for these types of happenings, and despite the employees being as pleasant and helpful as possible, METRC is heavily underfunded by a state that has shown a revenue of 4.5 billion dollars off legal cannabis since legalization in 2014. This gives you an idea of the bass-ackwardness of the entire situation.
40% of this owner’s medical crop was valued at over $100,000 at the time, and he was terrified he’d lose it all. Then the MED started looking through records and discovered the 100,000 seeds weren’t packaged to their liking. The MED officer began explaining to the owner he was about to be shut down for good. The owner had to quickly rifle through saved email correspondences and prove to the officer that he had simply followed rapidly changing rules as quickly as they were explained to him by MED, local, and state agents.
Luckily, the business owner saved his backup records of what had happened, and the officer was forced to believe him on the matter of the seeds and to follow-up with METRC. During the follow-up, METRC discovered that they did, in fact, lose one month of records.
These are everyday occurrences for owners and managers in the industry. The MED, state, and local municipalities rake in tens of millions of dollars in tax money every year, and the system designed for tracking (METRC) constantly fails. All the while, MED is harassing compliant business owners and finding any way possible to impose ludicrous fines.
The result? Recreational cannabis isn’t much cheaper than it was four years ago, and the quality has gone down. The stranglehold on legalized cannabis is strong, and it’s preventing owners from expanding and succeeding without compromising quality. Colorado cannabis faces higher taxation than almost any other product produced in the nation. This anonymous owner begs the public to go out and vote for representatives who support legal, properly regulated cannabis. Until we do this, prices will remain high, and quality will continue to go down.