Sensi: New Rules for Boulder Pot Businesses

The Boulder City Council on Tuesday passed a series of rule changes for Boulder cannabis businesses and said it planned to reevaluate others at a later date.

Leland Rucker, senior editor at Sensi Magazine says that the one that attracted the most attention, not surprisingly, was how to deal with promotional items.


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“Currently, marijuana businesses can’t give anything away or sell it below market value. They can’t give out stickers and lighters with their logos on them (which are prominent giveaways at any cannabis event and most festivals) and also cannot sell marijuana at a price below market rate.”

On Tuesday, the council voted to clarify the concept of promotional items into two basic categories: ones that have secondary purposes beyond promotion — lighters and cups, for example — and items such as stickers that have no secondary purpose.

The council and the appointed Marijuana Advisory Panel are dedicated to keep kids from accessing or acquiring cannabis. If stickers get out, some city attorneys argued, they could end up on kids’ skateboards. But businesses maintain they should be allowed to promote their products, so the city is still working its way through this.

“(It’s) very challenging to find a balance of interests here,” staff’s memo for the Tuesday meeting admitted. “For businesses, marketing and branding are recognized ways to increase revenue. For those concerned about the effect of marijuana on youth, there is a desire not to repeat the mistakes related to (tobacco) smoking.” The specter of Joe Camel is always there.

For now, the balance is tipped entirely to limiting promotional items. Depending on what council decides about the future of the MAP, that could change.

Other items were less consumer-oriented. Cold-water extraction is now legal at cultivation facilities, and marijuana businesses now must keep phones on their premises at all times so that local officers have a guaranteed point of contact in case of emergency. Cannabis businesses are allowed to post hours of operation on their signs; businesses can package products by machine instead of by hand, and allowing officers to issue tickets immediately if marijuana odor if detectable outside of an illegal grow operation.

I’ve been to meetings in years past, and chambers are generally packed, with lots of speakers on both sides. Tuesday night the only public comment came from Shawn Coleman, former city council candidate and current director of government affairs for Terrapin Care Station, who noted that hearings on pot laws, used to be six, seven hours long. “The reason it’s just me,” he added, “is the MAP panel’s done great work.”

I would say that council members, who have been very complimentary of the panel’s work in the past, will continue to use this resource. How long will it take to get the regs right? I still remember talking several years ago with Rep. Jonathan Singer, who, when asked how long it will take to get the rules right, reminded me that the legislature each year still has a few liquor bills, and prohibition ended in 1933.

Leland Rucker joins us Thursday mornings at 8.20am, on KGNU’s Morning Magazine, to talk about the latest news in cannabis.

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