Information is the most valuable commodity in the world. Without it, we cannot find, invent or trade anything of value.
If information is good for business, more information is better. For that reason, Colorado legislators should demand at least one outcome before the end of the 2019 legislative session:
A bipartisan law requiring and funding with marijuana tax proceeds an objective, comprehensive forensic audit of production, sale and consumption of recreational and medical marijuana.
The marijuana industry should ask for and support an objective third-party audit.
This law would be neither anti-marijuana nor pro-marijuana. It would demand information, which only stands to make the marijuana industry safer, more respectable, more defensible and more sustainable. Everyone should favor an audit.
The Oregon Secretary of State recently released an audit that found only 3 percent of the state's pot retailers and a third of its growers had undergone mandatory inspections for molds, metals, bacteria and other potential hazards. The audit unearthed an array of public health concerns legislators and state employees can begin to address. Information, provided by an audit, will improve public health and safety.
A lack of accountability is no good for honest marijuana growers and sellers. It most certainly poses dangers for marijuana users who expect their products won't harm them in the short term or long term with molds, metals, bacteria and other contaminants society tries to keep out of consumable goods.
To be genuinely mainstream, the marijuana industry needs the kind of commonsense scrutiny society applies to suppliers of food, pharmaceuticals, liquor and tobacco. Good businesses and consumers need protection from bad growers and sellers.
State politicians no doubt have great interest in the marijuana trade. Six weeks into the 2019 legislative session, they are considering at least seven marijuana bills. They include:
— SB 93, a bipartisan bill allowing felons to carry firearms if their convictions involved "the possession or use of marijuana that was lawfully possessed or used pursuant to the Colorado constitution."
— HB 1028, a bipartisan bill adding autism spectrum disorders to medical conditions qualifying a child (under age 18) to obtain and use medical marijuana.
— HB 1031, a Democratic bill removing the limit of one primary caregiver at a time for medical marijuana patients under age 18. The law would allow each of a child's parents or guardians to simultaneously serve as a caregiver.
— HB 1090, a bipartisan bill repealing the initial background check requirement for investors in marijuana businesses. The bill repeals the limitation of out-of-state direct beneficial owners to 15 and repeals the restriction on publicly traded corporations from holding Colorado marijuana licenses.
— HB 1055, a Democratic bill raising the cap on revenues from the retail marijuana excise tax that can be used for public school construction financial assistance.
— HB 1146, a bipartisan bill establishing the charge of "tandem DUI per se" and enhancing authority of law enforcement officers to bring charges with suspicion a driver has consumed alcohol or drugs.
— SB 13, a bipartisan bill adding any "condition for which a physician could prescribe an opiate" to the list of conditions authorizing a person under age 18 to use medical marijuana.
Several of the 2019 pot bills would enhance investment into marijuana, grow the consumer base and ease restrictions on marijuana users. All of this adds to the need for an independent, third-party audit that would improve the industry's accountability.
Colorado leads the world in the size, scope and permissibility of a marijuana trade politicians refer to as a social "experiment." We improve the value of any experiment by examining it. A bipartisan law, requiring and funding an independent audit, would benefit all who buy, sell or otherwise find themselves affected by legal marijuana.
REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE