With 420 approaching, it’s time for our annual reminder: Don’t do anything that might bring shame to Denver, Colorado, or marijuana legalization in general.
This weekend’s Cannabis Cup, a trade show for those in, or interested in, the bud industry, is doing its part to keep the jackassery to a minimum by disallowing and sales or giveaways of weed-related intoxicants. This should put it in stark contrast to the Great American Beer Festival, which every October floods our downtown streets with loopy, pretzel-necklaced nimrods.
The Cannabis Cup will unfold like a typical trade show, with representatives from all over the country in town to showcase their latest wares and forge new business alliances. Among the dozens of companies that will attend are Duby (get it?), which will debut its newest app that allows marijuana users to share their experiences anonymously with other enthusiasts and make recommendations about products and vendors. Mary’s Medicinals will be displaying its range of MMJ products, including its newly released Rescue Tonic, which promises to combat the effects of the overconsumption of edibles. And just ahead of the show, go-to reviewer Leafly has released its latest list of Denver’s top retail outlets.
The event will also feature a range of presentations and discussions about the latest developments in marijuana policy, and that’s where the most interesting action should be. As legalization continues to catch fire throughout the United States, it’s finally bringing some long-ignored issues to the forefront. Yes, Colorado’s tax revenue from legalization has fallen short of initial projections, but the contributors to that—such as ongoing black- and gray-market activity and the tax disparities between recreational and medical marijuana—are being re-examined by federal and state legislatures instead of being ignored because weed no longer has third-rail status in American politics. Colorado’s tax issues also haven’t seemed to undermine the industry’s overall economic momentum, which has been receiving investment capital reminiscent of the IT sector.
Meanwhile, legitimate concerns about marijuana’s risk are also receiving overdue attention. Colorado lawmakers have been debating the creation of mandatory testing standards for medical weed, a commonsense practice that’s been delayed by legislative reticence and a simple lack of qualified testers and technologies. But that’s rapidly beginning to change, and plenty of testing-related entrepreneurs will be at the Cannabis Cup.
Perhaps the biggest recent development is the growing advocacy around marijuana’s genuine medical potential. It doesn’t take much research to discover that weed is far less dangerous than prescription drugs, alcohol—maybe even sugar. Now that we know of marijuana’s promise for treating conditions such as PTSD and numerous other conditions, notable voices are calling for a loosening of restrictions and expansion of the research, and formerly timid lawmakers are at least beginning to see the light.
Although it will likely take years for all of marijuana’s appropriate controls, regulations, and attitudes to be fully implemented, Colorado continues to be where just about everyone is looking for guidance. We should be proud of how far we’ve come but vigilant about the work that remains—and the lingering opponents of legalization should seriously start to consider re-focusing their efforts onto subtances and drug policies that are doing demonstrably more harm to our society than marijuana ever could.
Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad at @LucHatlestad.