Marijuana industry workers face constant scrutiny in Colorado, but a bill pending in the state Legislature could cut them some slack if they run into regulatory trouble for a violation such as selling medical pot to someone without a valid patient card.
Colorado’s proposal to create the nation’s first “responsible medical marijuana vendor” designation would allow pot shops to train employees in state regulation and how to spot fake cards.
Dispensaries and other marijuana businesses that show all their employees have been trained could get a break if they run afoul of regulations.
The state Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division already requires that people who work with medical marijuana undergo background checks.
Employees must wear state-issued badges and be under video surveillance at all times when they are handling marijuana seeds or plants, as well as products made from marijuana, such as pot brownies.
The proposed responsible-vendor designation would give dispensary owners the option of giving employees additional training in state marijuana regulation and identifying legal medical marijuana cards.
Companies that put all their employees through the responsible vendor training could get a break if they face state sanctions for a regulatory misstep later.
Brian Vicente, head of Sensible Colorado, a pro-legalization group that supports the bill, which awaits a Senate committee hearing, said, “It’s really an attempt by the industry to further establish clear regulation and responsibility.”
A similar designation already is in place for companies that sell alcohol.
The designation would not exempt a company from regulatory violations, but the MMED could consider the designation a mitigating factor in a possible enforcement action.
Democratic Sen. Lois Tochtrop, who sponsored the bill, said the additional training could give pot workers “more clarity.”
“This gives the public more confidence in the industry,” Tochtrop said.
The bill faces excellent prospects in the Senate. And so far, the measure faces no organized opposition.
The head of the Cannabis Business Alliance, an industry group in Colorado with members including dispensaries, called the designation “the next logical step” in marijuana regulation.
“It is a necessary step in ensuring that this medicine is professionally handled from seed to sale,” CBA Director Robert Hoban said in a statement.
A fiscal analysis prepared for lawmakers suggested Colorado would not lose much money from fines if the designation were adopted. Analysts predicted “very few” businesses would achieve the designation.
Another industry group, the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, has estimated that medical marijuana businesses employ 5,000 to 10,000 people in Colorado.
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Author: Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press
Published: March 2, 2012
Copyright: 2012 The Associated Press