Pubdate: Thu, 17 Dec 2015
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Column: Weed Between the Lines
Copyright: 2015 Boulder Weekly
Author: Sarah Haas


Boulder City Council and staff are structuring and compiling an 
advisory panel to research and make recommendations towards the 
city's regulation of marijuana, to convene January 2016. As the 
marijuana industry matures, the City is working to update codes and 
create forward-looking regulations. The 10-member panel will be 
balanced between industry professionals and key stakeholders outside 
of the industry.

"The city was a pioneer in creating ordinances for medical marijuana 
and establishing best practices that were adopted throughout the 
state for this new industry," wrote City Manager Jane Brautigan in a 
press release. "Now it's time to focus our efforts on standards that 
ensure a safe industry, and the role marijuana businesses play in the 

Boulder is well positioned to lead industry regulations and, at times 
in the past, it has risen as a leader. But it has also floundered, 
alienating the industry with overbearing codes, contradictory 
enforcement and reactive amendments, earning Boulder the reputation 
as one of the most difficult cities to run a marijuana business.

Boulder's decision to create an advisory panel is a welcome move, but 
is not pioneering. Formation of advisory panels have been, and 
continue to be, an industry best practice in states with, or 
considering, legalized marijuana. Denver has formed several and 
successfully implemented their work into city policy, as has 
Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.

Among the first to make comments at the Dec. 8 study session was 
Councilmember Lisa Morzel relating her experience on the Governor's 
task force in 2012.

"It was a very well balanced group of people with different 
perspectives," Morzel says. "We started with the assumption that this 
was a legal substance now and that we weren't there to change that 
status. The assumption was that we deal with what the law was on the 
books and then we deal with how we implement the rules." As council 
looks to create and set the scope of the Marijuana Advisory Panel, 
Morzel's comment sets the tone to move into a new era of regulation. 
The focus of the group ought not be how to defend against the 
industry, but how to steward it in a straightforward manner, easy to 
understand by all stakeholders.

The initiative to create the panel in September of this year arose 
out of frustration by industry players who found the discrepancies 
between state and city codes to be injurious to business. Then 
Councilmember Macon Cowles suggested adopting the State's regulations 
in order to minimize the conflict between the two documents, spurring 
a debate that led Council to direct staff to begin creating the advisory panel.

Although City Attorney Tom Carr strongly advocates against the 
adoption of State codes, others on City Council expressed interest in 
providing the topic as fodder for the panel's consideration.

Other topics for the advisory panel include: advertising, public 
consumption, co-locating medical and recreational marijuana sales, 
and penalties for violations. The panel is not limited in their scope 
and may explore subject areas beyond those outlined.

The 10-member panel will include: representatives of marijuana 
consumers and marijuana businesses, the Boulder Valley School 
District, the University of Colorado and the Chamber of Commerce; 
representatives who can provide physical and mental health 
perspectives, including youth development theory and best practices 
in harm reduction/health promotion; an attorney experienced in 
representing marijuana businesses; and an individual familiar with 
state regulations, who will be an ex-officio member.

Intentionally not listed above are disproportionately affected 
populations, which Council chose not to list, citing a lack of data 
to justify their inclusion. With more information, these communities 
may be asked to give testimony to the panel.

City Manager Jane Brautigan is currently accepting letters of 
interest at  She will assemble a slate 
for presentation to City Council to comment on in January.

Two years after legalization, not only has the industry matured, but 
city regulators are doing what they can to keep pace, setting a new 
tone of collaboration. It seems city policy, once guarded by fear of 
marijuana, is now working to steward in a prosperous and healthy industry.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom