DENVER — Colorado’s Department of Revenue, tasked with regulating the state’s nascent legal marijuana industry, opened three days of hearings Tuesday to lay out licensing specifics before retail sales begin in January.
The proposed rules require those seeking to enter the marijuana retail business to pay up to $5,000 just to apply to be in the recreational pot business. Operational licenses cost another $2,750 to $14,000.
Successful applicants must also pass a gauntlet of criminal background checks and residency requirements.
All of the revenue will go toward making sure the state can regulate the industry. Much of the resources will go to cover the cost of implementing a “seed to sale” tracking system that will include video surveillance of all plants as they grow and RFID tags on all packaging to make sure the marijuana grown in Colorado stays in the state.
“It’s going to be expensive for the businesses but it’s a way of making the inventory tracking much more efficient,” said Mike Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.
And yet, even with all the regulations and expenses, some citizens don’t think there are enough safeguards to protect communities and children from marijuana.
“We’ve allowed for home grow, up to six plants per adult,” said Rachel O’Bryan with the group SMART Colorado. “That’s an enormous amount of marijuana. What happens when someone grows too much and realizes they can make money selling it across state lines?”
On Wednesday, the state will explain proposed rules limiting advertising from the industry.
Under one rule, retailers will be prohibited from advertising on any website that doesn’t require the user to verify that he or she is at least 21 years of age; another restricts businesses from advertising to consumers outside Colorado.