The draft of a bill to be introduced in the Colorado Senate next week proposes such momentous changes to the Cannabis industry that it has prompted suspicion that industry players are writing policy to line their pockets.
The bill, which appears to be a sweeping and controversial overhaul, seeks to change licensing procedures and ease pesticide restrictions. It was drafted by Republican Colorado State Senator Randy Baumgardner, in tandem with the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce and the trade organization Marijuana Industry Group. The changes could put regulation and licensing Colorado’s marijuana industry in the hands of a few potentially high-profile, pro-big business individuals, and take the regulatory process away from the state’s larger enforcement division.
“I’ve heard a couple people argue that we knew that this was going to happen,” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said of the draft proposal. “That the profits coming from the Cannabis industry would sooner or later push certain members of the industry to put profits above the safety of the public, and I think that’s a dangerous place for the industry to be in.”
Perhaps the most disconcerting piece of the draft legislation is that it would allow operators to remediate or ‘clean’ marijuana or marijuana products tainted by illegal pesticides; current law requires commercial marijuana found to have traces of illegal pesticide be destroyed.
The proposal would also allow growers to use an exempt pesticide that is labeled safe for human consumption under federal law. Right now, the Colorado Department of Agriculture does not recommend the use of any pesticide on marijuana, and has strict regulations regarding the use of pesticides for commercial marijuana production. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who is a staunch opponent of pesticide use in commercial marijuana production, told the Durang Herald, “Some of the ones they use we can say with certainty are dangerous. If I was counsel for the marijuana industry, I would argue, you don’t want to take any risk at all.”
Lawmakers in the Colorado Senate have major reservations about the draft legislation proposal, as it was crafted with input by only the two industry groups.