As prohibition slowly loosens its grip on how people experience cannabis, businesses have been operating in an environment of incomplete laws across a variety of infrastructural channels of the rapidly developing industry.
Social consumption laws have been an “after the fact” consideration, Ganjapreneurs responded to consumer demands and modernized the once underground culture in murky regulatory waters.
State after state stumbles on sensible social use rules. Having largely adopted policies for regulating cannabis similarly to alcohol, an environment where regulations largely come from cities and counties in recreational states has been created nationwide.
How municipalities interpret and enforce their rules varies. Those operating in less friendly jurisdictions are eager for common sense resolutions and regularly campaign their causes to deal with this issue upfront and with voter participation.
Some businesses in adult use legal zones have businesses with innovative plans that involve providing opportunities for consumption of cannabis for customers must operate in these grey zones. Any service that provides a crafted cannabis experience—think a culinary experience or a tour of local industry establishments—creates such opportunities to enhance customer experience.
Complicated and unclear networks of rules, precedent and waning enforcement cause people to make a decision. Either don’t operate or adopt a “let’s see where this goes” to meet consumer demand.
These problems tend not to have arisen within states where only medical cannabis is legal. In those states, any public use is still illegal to varying degrees. Dispensaries in those states have tended to play within green zones of operation and not push lines of regulation.
The increase of more discreet uses of cannabis eases some tensions on urgency of individuals, however, as the industry matures, sub industries develop, and these regulatory hiccups can prove to be expensive, frustrating and nonsensical at times.
A Cautionary Tale
In July of 2018, an the city of Denver showed one way municipalities may deal with the intersection of sluggish clarity and enforcement of laws and an entrepreneur’s ingenuity in the case of Colorado Cannabis Tours and 420 Hotels.
The team led by Michael Eymer was building the green rush dream: a company built by supplying a need that has yet to be fulfilled at the right time with the right contacts. Michael gave his first tour with a limousine… that limo is key.
Through sacrifice, hard work and love of the job, he grew the business successfully. It came to be featured on HBO, Bravo, TODAY, and MSNBC among many other channels. A Colorado Cannabis Tourism industry was being built.
He tried to interpret and navigate what restrictions were written into law diligently. For what he and his team could tell after receiving counsel, the state had decided to regulate use like alcohol.
Even though there were no permits issued to consume on any premises, one could consume alcohol in the back of a limousine or similar kind of vehicle with a separate area from the driver. This was the stone on which the tower was built.
In July of 2018, Michael, the present staff and his customers were arrested fined for engaging in a legal activity that has not been adequately defined under debatable circumstances.
They are currently in a legal dispute with city of Denver. Michael and his team are confident of a win. Regardless, it’s a lot of wasted time that could have been solved by either issuing permits or creating clear rules.
Into Our Hands
This failure of governance is likely to see similar cases show up, because, as stated earlier, it is a tendency to begin regulating cannabis like alcohol without issuing licenses to consume.
Voter initiative has proven to be the most effective way for states to legalize cannabis recreationally. This form of legalization communicates public intent, but doesn’t specify the manner in which each state deals with certain aspects of the rollout.
It has been states’ responsibility to uphold the voter’s intent to have an intelligent law. Unfortunately, achieving legalized status does not mean that it is done so intelligently. Businesses, voters must continue to apply pressure to shape the kind of experience they want in their state with cannabis.
By Ryan Duffy
Ryan Duffy is a freelance writer. You can contact him on LinkedIn.