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Colorado’s cannabis industry developed and expanded in 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacies were setting sales records and local communities were moving into new forms of marijuana business. Much remains to be done, however: many communities are slow to approve these new companies and industry practices could use an update.
As a New Year Starts, here are seven Resolutions to Improve Colorado Cannabis:
Eradicating Cannabis Crime
Last year, Colorado lawmakers were in the hot seat for doing little to repair the damage caused by the war on drugs since reprint sales began in 2014 when other newer states brought the game into theirs Legalization language. Colorado legislation began to resolve the issue by approving a bill giving the governor the right to rule out low-level marijuana possession crimes (no less on the last day of the 2020 session), and Governor Jared Polis took advantage of this Power finally. On October 1, 2,732 low-level convictions for marijuana possession are automatically pardoned. But more can and should be done.
For starters, the pardons Polis issued could only apply to convictions passed in state, not local, courts, hence the relatively small number of records kept in Colorado compared to other efforts by cities and states in California and Illinois have been cleared. Colorado’s number would also have been higher if Polis had used his full force. Rather than pardoning those convicted of pot ownership of up to 2 ounces (the medical marijuana limit in Colorado), he opted to clarify ownership charges of up to 1 ounce, citing the state’s current recreational possession limit – but in the immortal words of McConaughey, “Be a lot cooler after you’ve done it.”
This could be a double-edged sword for Colorado cannabis. The state’s arid climate is not ideal for achieving perfect marijuana moisture, and attempting to retrospectively add moisture to the flower (or keep it on after harvest) can lead to mold problems. And none of that excuses some of the dried shit I got from pharmacies. Half of the nugs I bought in pot shops in 2020 fell apart on contact. Not only does that mean that each bowl sucks after the first hit scorches the earth, but the dryness also affects the smell, taste and potency. Colorado weeds may always be a little drier than the others, but we can still do better.
Delivery, hospitality … NOW!
If it feels like you’ve always read about upcoming marijuana delivery and hospitality operations, it’s because, although they became legal in Colorado in 2020, both the supply and hospitality sectors gained in local government, who first have to decide on the programs have little ground. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic blocked some of that progress over the past year, but local and state officials managed to get alcohol in take-away cups fast enough. Now that budgets are shrinking during a tough economic time, more and more local authorities are taking an interest, and we are likely to see more adoption and hospitality in 2021.
Is it time to give up hope of legal weeds that hold the same price for more than three months? Or is that the literal price we have to pay for a local harvest? If the latter is okay, but that’s still no excuse for the fluctuations we’ve seen in marijuana prices since retailing was legalized. According to the Treasury Department, the average price per pound of flower reached a four-year high by the end of 2020, an increase of almost 25 percent from the beginning of 2020 and an increase of almost 55 percent from the beginning of 2019. All of these figures mean higher prices in the pharmacy, which we last Have seen over and over again over the years. Now that cannabis suppliers have had time to adjust to the increased demand during the pandemic, prices may come down in 2021. Just don’t expect them to stay there.
This is a first world problem, but anyone who’s waited 45 minutes in line at the pot shop to buy a few pre-rolls or a weekly gram of hashish will understand. Government laws require pharmacies to keep their products for sale behind the counter or glass so people can’t grab products and toss them at the cash register – all after your ID has been checked in a waiting room or separate area from the store. This leads to a lot of queues, especially when a tourist or novice yells at the budtender who is probably hoping to get some nice tip for their help. Let them do this while those of us who know what we want keep moving. This won’t happen for a while – imagine the marijuana shoplifting hysteria – but it sure needs to be done.
The marijuana industry could learn a few things from craft brewing, including how to treat its employees, but perhaps an easier sale would be more collaborative projects between competitors. It is a shame that every marijuana business owner believes they have a magical elixir or technique that cannot be shared, and hardly any grower or extractor wants to work with their respective colleagues. We’ve had enough time to spot at least trustworthy peers in legal cannabis, despite the network of shady characters still trying to make money quickly. So why not learn from each other every now and then and join forces? Are stoners trying the creation? Collaborative cultivation, breeding, or extraction projects between some of the best Colorados would be a sign of evolution, both in industry and in culture.
Most growers avoid constantly changing marijuana properties by cloning a favorite strain for more consistency. However, these new strains usually start with seeds, assign numbers to the strain phenotypes, and then select their favorite for commercial growing. (For example, if a breeder had three phenotypes of Purple Kush, they would be labeled Purple Kush # 1, Purple Kush # 2, and Purple Kush # 3.) But instead of letting us try just one, why not sell them all? three and let the customers choose?
Wholesale grower Veritas Fine Cannabis began selling collection boxes of three different phenotypes of the same strain in 2020 and asking customers what their favorite was. KrystaLeaves and Den-Rec also sell numerous phenotypes of the same strain and offer customers five or six versions of their favorite cuts to try. Let’s hope the trend gains momentum this year.
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Herbert Fuego is the Westword based stoner and is ready to answer any of your marijuana questions.