Colorado Campaigning Against Cannabis?

As of late, the mood in Colorado regarding marijuana seems to have been souring. The Republican candidate for governor, Bob Beauprez, suggested that Coloradans should re-examine the issue to see if “maybe we’ve gone too far.” On the democratic side, things aren’t much better—Gov. John Hickenlooper has received criticism from the cannabis industry for saying that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana was “reckless.”

Most recently, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) has suggested that Colorado ban all forms of edible cannabis with the exception of lozenges and marijuana tinctures. If you have invested in Colorado cannabis or you are considering it, you might be asking yourself ,“What is going on out there?” Indeed, the headlines as of late have looked slightly ominous for the nascent marijuana industry. However, when you look past the headlines, the landscape is not quite so bad.

With regards to statements made by politicians, sometimes they are simply hot air. We are in an election year, and some political candidates will say anything for a vote. It is not surprising for either gubernatorial candidate to sound “tough” on marijuana without promising any substantive changes; they are campaigning. On the other hand, the proposed edible ban by the CDPHE underlies a growing issue in the cannabis industry.

At the heart of the marijuana debate in Colorado is how to regulate the edible marijuana market. There have been numerous reports about people freaking out because they got too high. Even worse, there has been an increase of children rushed to the ER because they accidentally ate a parent’s cannabis candy. Most people agree something must be done, but very few people can actually agree on how to do it.

The CDPHE’s proposed edibles ban was supposed to be introduced in a meeting with lawmakers and regulators that was aimed at regulating the edible marijuana market. However, as news quickly spread throughout the Internet, thanks to an AP story on October 20, 2014, the CDPHE’s proposal lost its footing.

In response to the proposal, state Rep. Jonathan Singer was quoted by The Cannabist as saying, “This is by far the simplest recommendation, but I don’t know if it gets us to where we want to be.” Banning something is always simpler than trying to work it out; thankfully, Singer understands the difference.

At the end of the meeting, nothing was accomplished and no proposal was adopted. The meeting did not lack for good ideas; it just lacked participants able to agree on anything. After 10 months of debates, meetings and hearings, the best Colorado regulators have been able to do is stipulate that cannabis products must be sold in child-resistant containers.

When you get right down to it, fixing the edibles issue is a problem for the industry itself and not lawmakers. If you wait on legislators to fix the issue, by the time they are agree on something it might just be a ban similar to what the CDPHE has proposed.

Some marijuana businesses have already started selling “rookie cookies” for inexperienced marijuana users. While this is a small change, it is more than you can expect out of regulators in Colorado. There is also a bill making its way through the state legislature. If adopted, edibles would be required to adhere to labeling rules similar to the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. Again, it is not a bad start, but investors are the ones in the industry that should be pushing for change.

As an investor, you wield a lot of power. With limited access to banking services and capital, you must drive innovation in the industry. You hold the purse strings to a billion dollar industry, and it is within your power to alter or change its course. By supporting businesses that do it well, pushing for changes within your cannabis company investments and voicing your approval on meaningful legislation, you can improve the industry’s course.

With that in mind, ask yourself what you want the marijuana industry to look like. Who do you want setting the rules? Do you want campaigning politicians to determine your financial future, or do you want market-driven investors that are trying to set a healthy pace for the industry? The choice is yours.

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