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Medical marijuana laws in Colorado will be more strict starting Jan. 1. Here’s how.​

New rules for buyers and sellers were announced this week​

Photo taken packaged 1g marijuana concentrates ...

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post
Photo taken packaged 1g marijuana concentrates of Viola in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
By ALEX BURNESS | aburness@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
November 11, 2021 at 1:16 p.m.

Colorado will impose stricter rules for the purchase of medical marijuana starting Jan. 1 following several months of deliberation over how to execute a new state law meant largely to limit young people’s access to and abuse of high-potency THC products.
Mark Ferrandino, executive director of the state’s Department of Revenue and a former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, announced the rules late Tuesday night. He had final say, but received heavy input from state marijuana enforcement officials and a task force that included parents, health professionals and marijuana industry representatives. That task force was formed by the new law passed this year, HB21-1317, that represented the state’s most significant overhaul of marijuana regulations since recreational legalization in 2012.
In the process of passing that bill, the legislature heard stories parents shared about the dramatic effects some marijuana products have had on their children. Parents spoke of psychosis, suicidal thoughts and nonstop vomiting, among other issues, and by the time the legislature was to vote on the bill, nearly all members — 93 out of 100 — were convinced of a need to tighten the law.
Of particular concern to the legislature are products such as wax and shatter that, unlike traditional marijuana flower, are concentrated products made in labs containing much higher percentages of THC — the main psychoactive compound in cannabis — than even the most potent flower.
The new rules, which in limited cases also affect recreational buyers, include:

Daily purchase limits​

The state will limit the daily purchase to two ounces of flower and eight grams of concentrate such as wax and shatter for medical marijuana patients. The concentrate limit goes down to two grams per day for medical patients between the ages of 18 and 20. The previous daily concentrate purchase limit for medical patients was 40 grams.
Dispensaries must enforce the daily purchase limits by inputting patient ID numbers found on medical marijuana cards. Stores are to refuse sale to anyone who seeks to exceed their purchase limit. All data collected must be kept confidential.


Exceptions to the new limits apply only to a patient whose doctor affirms in writing that the patient has a physical or geographic hardship that should allow them to exceed the daily purchase limits, and that the patient has designated a store as the primary place they get their medicine.
Examples of ways people can qualify for a hardship include: restricted mobility as a result of a debilitating condition, lack of access to a driver’s license due to a debilitating condition or lack of access to public transit or ride-sharing services due to a debilitating condition. Exceptions can also apply to people who live outside of populous Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer or Pueblo counties and who also cannot access medical marijuana (or their preferred medical marijuana concentrate) in their home county.

Public education​

An educational resource in the form of an 8×11 paper pamphlet must be provided to customers (medical and recreational) at the point of sale of a concentrate. This pamphlet will include a black dot, smaller than a fingernail, displaying the state’s recommended serving size for concentrates. It will also feature advice on how to safely consume and a list of negative conditions the state declares can result from the use of marijuana concentrate, including psychotic symptoms, “uncontrolled and repetitive vomiting” and “physical and psychological dependence.” The pamphlet will list numbers to various hotlines for people experiencing any of those problems.


Medical marijuana dispensaries are specifically barred from marketing to people under the age of 21. That’s a change from the previous ban on advertising to people under 18. The state considers it a violation if an advertisement appears in a form of media estimated to have at least 28.4% of its audience younger than 21. In advertising concentrates, medical and recreational businesses must both include language approved by the state that warns of the risks of overconsumption.
Ferrandino was not available Thursday to discuss the new rules, a spokeswoman said.
The law that led to the rules also directs the Colorado School of Public Health to analyze existing research “related to the physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates” — and its results could influence future policy decisions at the Capitol.
Denver Democrat Alec Garnett, current House speaker and a lead sponsor of the bill that led to the rules, said he’s confident in Ferrandino’s decisions and that he isn’t planning any new legislation regulating marijuana for the 2022 session, which begins in January, days after the new rules go into effect.
“I would assume it’s a quieter session on this topic,” Garnett said.
The past session was anything but. HB21-1317 was the product of months of meetings and it drew massive bipartisan support from the legislature as well as dire warnings from medical marijuana patients and advocates concerned about restricted access to medicine.
Some of those fears remain, Truman Bradley, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said at a hearing earlier this month when the rules were being finalized.
“I have some concerns that when these rules are put into effect on Jan. 1 that there’s going to be a whole group of medical patients that are caught up in this sort of gray area where they’re not sure what they can legally purchase,” he said. “Remember, we’re talking about medicine here. This is really important, and I don’t want to see them left behind.”
But Bradley said Thursday it’s too soon to tell whether patients will experience that confusion. He said he hopes other lawmakers join Garnett in refraining from further legislation this year, to leave time for “the impacts of these rules to be fully implemented and understood.”
Although the new rules touch on recreational marijuana, too — namely regarding the educational pamphlet — the rules for non-medical consumers aren’t really changing. Recreational users can still buy up to one ounce of flower per day, or up to eight grams of concentrate.
The purchase age for recreational products remains 21, whereas people over 18 can seek medical cards. The lower age for medical patients, combined with the (previously) much higher daily concentrate purchase limits for that group, is a big reason the legislature was so focused on the medical side of the industry.

“The prime thing is to reduce the access for teenagers,” Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo of Thornton, who sponsored the bill along with Garnett, said in June as the governor signed it into law.
At the same time it has pursued these tougher regulations, the legislature has shown increasing openness to the use of cannabis in children to treat epilepsy and other issues, even legalizing the storage and administration of medicinal cannabis products in schools.
Dawn Reinfeld, a Boulder parent who heads the advocacy group Blue Rising Together and who rallied other parents to back HB21-1317, said in a text message Thursday that she’s “pleasantly surprised” by the new rules, and especially by the thresholds people will have to meet in order to demonstrate hardship sufficient to exempt themselves from the daily purchase limits.
“We mobilized dozens of advocates to counter the industry’s power throughout the rule-making proceedings, and we feel that the final rules reflect our advocates’ concerns because of the stories and experiences they shared about how high-potency THC has impacted their lives,” she said.

Denver hotel first in nation to receive license for legal weed consumption

Denver has long been a desirable travel destination. With the legalization of adult-use cannabis, tourism has been on fire and hotels have been trying to keep up. Indeed, a recent study showed an increase of 120,000 hotel rooms rented per month once tourists were able to purchase cannabis legally, yet public consumption of cannabis was banned in Denver.
Enter the Patterson Inn, the first licensed cannabis consumption lounge in a hotel, which just obtained a provisional license from the city of Denver, clearing a major cannabis licensing hurdle to operate a cannabis consumption lounge as an amenity to the adjacent hotel.
Chris Chiari, CEO and founder of the 420 Hotels, was the first to apply for a license under Denver’s new social consumption rules. Now that he’s received approval, Chiari is transforming part of the Denver-based luxurious castle into into a first in the nation, in-hotel licensed legal cannabis consumption lounge.

“The 420 Hotels sees cannabis hospitality as the most unique and exciting amenity in the hotel industry today,” Chiari said.
“We are excited to be the first cannabis lounge to be licensed as an amenity to overnight hospitality, and to provide a welcoming space for legal cannabis consumption.”

Heads In Beds​


“Licensed cannabis hospitality is the final mile in the effort to destigmatize and normalize cannabis possession and use. This has been my career focus for just over a decade and it’s exciting to be leading the charge with our keystone property, The Patterson Inn and our cannabis consumption lounge, The 420 Denver,” Chiari said.
“The 420 Hotels Inc. is pairing four-star hospitality with a licensed cannabis lounge. Our brand focus is heads in beds, and we see the addition of a licensed lounge for cannabis consumption as one of the most unique and exciting amenities in hospitality today,” Chiari told Benzinga.
With the provisional license in hand, The 420 Hotels Inc. is moving forward on renovating the carriage house of the Victorian era inn with a lounge that adheres to recently passed state laws for commercial cannabis consumption spaces. The goal is to have the updates, funded by an equity crowdfunding campaign through Republic.com, complete by the end of 2022.

“We look forward to welcoming the canna-curious as well as informed consumers looking for a space that doesn’t require sneaking around and allows for the open and responsible use of cannabis in a social environment,” Chiari said.

Colorado Launches Another Marijuana-Themed License Plate Auction To Support Disabled Communities

Colorado officials on Friday announced another round of auctions for ceremonial, marijuana-themed license plates to raise money to support programs for people with disabilities.

People are able to bid on 22 different license plates with cannabis terms—like “WEED,” “420,” “BONGWTR,” “HASH” and “THC”—until April 20 and 4:20pm MT, with the first-to-legalize state strongly leaning into the marijuana holiday.

“For over a decade, Colorado has been a leader in the cannabis space, bringing bold, innovative and creative businesses to the state,” Gov. Jared Polis (D) said in a press release. “This effort allows us to celebrate Colorado’s mile-high reputation and fund critical projects and programs in our disability community.”

The state generated more than $45,000 from last year’s inaugural marijuana license plate auction for the Colorado Disability Funding Committee (CDFC).

Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (D) said the new initiative is a “fantastic opportunity to provide grant funding to not-for-profit and for-profit organizations that serve people with disabilities.”

As an example, a representative of Family Voices CO, which received a grant from the 2021 auction, said that it gave the organization the opportunity to launch a pilot program to help 12 children experiencing deaf-blindness.

Other plates in the new auction include ones reading, “BLUNT,” “DABBING,” “TERPENE,” “TOKER,” “VISINE” and “NORML.”

One of the top sellers from last year’s auction was the “TEGRIDY” plate, a nod to the fictional South Park marijuana farm. Polis presented the creators of South Park with the souvenir license plates late last year, and he also said one of the show’s most popular stoner characters would make a good mascot for the state.

The press release from the governor’s office emphasizes that “it is never a good idea to mix driving and cannabis.”

“Cannabis impairs critical abilities needed to drive safely, which can result in a crash,” it says. “A DUI can cost more than $13,500 and include jail time, loss of license and more.”

People who don’t live in Colorado can also bid. If they win, they will be sent a novelty plate without the security features that come on a normal plate.

Despite being one of the first states to legalize for adult use, Colorado’s cannabis program is continually evolving.

Colorado broke another marijuana sales record in 2021, with state officials reporting over $2.22 billion in cannabis purchases last year. Marijuana sales exceeded $151 million in the state in January 2022 alone, officials reported.

Nearly $500 million of cannabis tax revenue in Colorado has supported the state’s public school system. The state brought in a record $423 million in marijuana tax dollars last year.

Meanwhile, Colorado officials announced in January that the state has achieved a “wildly important goal” of increasing diversity in the legal marijuana industry—but the data shows there’s still a way to go before cannabis business ownership is on par with the state’s population demographics.

The governor has also been routinely providing relief to thousands of people with prior marijuana convictions through the pardon process.

Advocates were disappointed last month, however, when a Colorado House committee defeated a bill that was originally meant to provide protections for workers who use marijuana off the job and allow medical cannabis patients to use their medicine at work—even after significantly scaling the legislation back to remove those protections altogether.


Colorado couple at center of state’s largest-ever black market marijuana ring reach plea agreement​

Fayin Deng and Kelly Chuong were set to stand trial this week​

An agent, with the Drug Enforcement ...

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
An agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration uses his feet to smash down cannabis plants in a trailer outside a home in the Conservatory at the Plains subdivision in Aurora during a raid on May 22, 2019.

By SAM TABACHNIK | stabachnik@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: June 20, 2022 at 6:18 p.m. | UPDATED: June 20, 2022 at 6:21 p.m.

A Colorado couple at the center of the state’s largest-ever black market marijuana ring has reached a plea agreement with federal authorities, court records show.
Fayin Deng and Kelly Chuong were set to stand trial this week on felony charges related to the distribution of large quantities of marijuana.
Late last month, attorneys for both individuals filed notices in federal court, saying agreements had been reached. Terms of the plea agreements were not specified in court documents.
An individual who answered a phone listed in Chuong’s name on Monday afternoon said “no comment” when asked about the deal. Deng’s attorney also did not comment when reached. Messages left for Chuong’s attorney were not returned.
Deng and Chuong faced up to 40 years in federal prison on each count if convicted. The couple previously spent 18 months in federal prison for operating a large-scale marijuana distribution operation in 2008.
A federal grand jury indicted the pair in May 2021, two years after local, state and federal law enforcement busted hundreds of grows around metro Denver in what the now-former U.S. Attorney for Colorado called the largest takedown of its kind in state history.
Dozens of people were arrested, with authorities seizing more than 80,000 marijuana plants and nearly $2.2 million along with gold bars, jewelry and sports cars.
Federal investigators said the criminal enterprise bought up large, suburban homes from Thornton to Castle Rock, converting the spacious basements into sophisticated — and unregulated — marijuana grow centers. The weed would then be shipped in massive quantities around the country, especially to states where the drug remains illegal.
Prosectors divulged little about their case against Deng and Chuong, but local drug investigators in 2019 pegged the couple as leaders of the drug trafficking organization, according to arrest warrant affidavits for other suspects filed at the time in Arapahoe and Adams county district courts.

Deng spearheaded the marijuana distribution, investigators alleged, while Chuong would launder the money through multiple restaurants.
Dozens of cases related to the investigation have been winding their way through district courts around the metro area.
An Aurora couple in February 2020 became the first members of the criminal operation to be sentenced in connection with the investigation, with a jury finding them guilty of growing nearly 900 marijuana plants in their basement with plans to distribute.

Feds, local police launch raids on up to 50 black-market marijuana grow houses in Denver area​

Scores of DEA and local police fanned out to dozens of alleged illegal grow houses​

A Members of the Drug Enforcement ...

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
An official with the Drug Enforcement Administration carries out marijuana plants from a home the agency raided the Reunion subdivision of Commerce City on Jan. 31, 2019.

By KIRK MITCHELL | kmitchell@denverpost.com and SAM TABACHNIK | stabachnik@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: January 31, 2019 at 8:16 a.m. | UPDATED: January 31, 2019 at 5:47 p.m.

Scores of agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency fanned out early Thursday morning in a coordinated raid of up to 50 suspected black-market marijuana grow houses in the Denver metro area, authorities say.
Dozens of search warrants were served on homeowners and residents across the metro area, said Randy Ladd, spokesman for the DEA’s Denver field office.
Thursday’s raids come just three months after federal agents similarly executed more than two dozen search warrants in the Aurora area, seizing hundreds of plants from suspected black-market grow houses. The DEA declined to comment on whether the two rounds of searches were connected, and no arrests have been made in connection with either raid.
On Thursday, agents could be seen stacking uprooted marijuana plants on the driveways of multiple homes in the 10900 block of Unity Lane in Commerce City, and a few miles away in the 11500 block of Chambers Drive.
Law enforcement officers also stacked dozens of heat lamps used for growing marijuana on the lawn, and loaded bags of cash into U-Haul trucks. DEA agents arrived around 7 a.m. and some of the homeowners were inside at the time.
The home on Unity Lane was one of two houses raided in the same block. A car in the driveway of one of the targeted homes had a car seat in it and a stroller could be seen in the garage.
Sandra Braig and her daughter Hannah live next door to one of the homes that was raided. They were about to go to school when they heard a DEA agent yell over the bullhorn: “We have a warrant to search the house!” The mother and daughter heard loud bangs as officials barged into the home.
Agents told Braig she and her daughter had to remain in their house.
“Yeah, I had to call the school and say, ‘Sorry, my daughter’s gonna be late cause the DEA is outside our house,’ ” she said.
A man and woman answered the door of one of the raided homes on Unity Lane. “We don’t want to talk,” the man said, slamming the door.
Braig said she didn’t know much about her neighbors, noting the blinds were always drawn and the house was normally dark. The house was usually very quiet, she said, but once a month three or four cars would arrive.
“It’s a little bit disturbing,” Braig said. “We paid a lot for this house. This will be associated with our neighborhood now.”
About 1½ miles away, agents were hauling hundreds of marijuana plants out of three homes and piling them on driveways. More than 1,000 plants were taken from one house. Lexus vehicles sat in the driveways of two of the homes.

  • Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration ...
  • Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration ...
  • Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration ...
  • Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration ...
RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
1 of 9
Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration and local authorities line up marijuana plants during a raid by law enforcement of a home in the Reunion subdivision on Jan. 31, 2019, in Commerce City.

Despite scores of raids, so far there have not been any arrests in the illegal grow operations.
That’s highly unusual, said Frank Moya, a Denver attorney who specializes in defending people accused of drug dealing.
Typically when agents pursue long-term investigations of syndicates, suspects are arrested on the day drug seizures are made, Moya said. At that point, everyone involved in the operation knows they are the targets, and they might flee.
“The word is out,” he said.
It’s unclear what strategy prosecutors and investigators might be pursuing if they are not arresting alleged participants in the illegal businesses, Moya said.
Colorado is a prime location for the grow houses because, unlike other states that have legalized marijuana, it allows people to grow marijuana inside residential homes, Ladd said.
“Colombia is to cocaine as Colorado is to marijuana,” he said.
Ladd declined to discuss any details of Thursday’s raids, but he did speak generally about grow houses run by black-market syndicates. He said such operations can amount to “indentured servitude.”
“People don’t live in these homes,” Ladd said of illicit grow houses in general. “They bought them solely to run marijuana operations.”

“These people never could have gotten to this country without doing this,” he added. “They will be told, ‘You owe us five grows.’ Then that same group will send a rip-off crew to steal the marijuana. They can never get out.”
Colorado’s recreational marijuana law was passed in 2012, and retail pot sales began on Jan. 1, 2014.
Deanne Reuter, assistant special agent in charge for the DEA, said that since 2014, agents in Colorado have raided 350 black-market marijuana grow houses and seized 100,000 marijuana plants weighing 12,000 pounds.
I applaud this.

Colorado Governor Issues Executive Order On Marijuana Protections For Workers With Professional Licenses

The governor of Colorado on Thursday signed an executive order to provide broad professional licensing protections for workers who use marijuana in compliance with state law. The move also prevents state agencies from assisting in any out-of-state investigations related to lawful cannabis conduct that could result in employment penalties.

Gov. Jared Polis (D), a longtime legalization supporter, issued the directive in the interest of protecting “the individual freedom and rights of Coloradans,” a press release says.

“The exclusion of people from the workforce because of marijuana-related activities that are lawful in Colorado, but still criminally penalized in other states, hinders our residents, economy and our State,” Polis said. “No one who lawfully consumes, possesses, cultivates or processes marijuana pursuant to Colorado law should be subject to professional sanctions or denied a professional license in Colorado.”

“This includes individuals who consume, possess, cultivate or process marijuana in another state in a manner that would be legal under Colorado law,” he said.

The executive order is two-pronged.

First, it directs the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) and Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), as well as its cannabis division, to promulgate rules to ensure that nobody is “subject to disciplinary action against a professional license or disqualified from professional licensure for any civil or criminal judgment, discipline, or other sanction threatened or imposed under the laws of another state regarding consumption, possession, cultivation or processing of marijuana.”

In other words, having a conviction for low-level marijuana possession in a prohibitionist state couldn’t be used against a person seeking a professional license in Colorado, for example. That would cover licenses to work in a wide range of industries, including cannabis, gambling, legal services and education.

Second, the order says that Colorado state agencies cannot “provide information or data, or expend time, money, facilities, property, equipment, personnel or other resources to assist or further any investigation or proceeding initiated in or by another state that seeks to impose sanctions upon a person’s professional license for the lawful consumption, possession, cultivation or processing of marijuana in Colorado.”

There is an exception for cooperation in cannabis-related employment investigations that are ordered by a court.

It’s not immediately clear if this executive order is responsive to a common problem in Colorado as it concerns professional licensing policy, but Polis said that the policy is especially necessary to avoid deterring qualified individuals from pursuing work in the state and to address workforce shortages.

Earlier this year, a Colorado House committee defeated a bill that was originally meant to provide protections for workers who use marijuana off the job and allow medical cannabis patients to use their medicine at work—even after significantly scaling the legislation back to remove those protections altogether.

As noted in the governor’s press release, Colorado was one of the first states to legalize cannabis for adult-use, and the industry now boasts more than 40,000 jobs in the state. The recreational marijuana market has also generated more than $2 billion in tax revenue since shops opened in 2014.

Cannabis sales have generally trended upward in the years since, though they started to lag in 2022 following a peak in 2020. In March, the state saw $162 million in marijuana purchases.

Polis has committed to improving upon the state’s cannabis law, including through executive actions. The governor has been routinely providing relief to thousands of people with prior marijuana convictions through the pardon process.

Meanwhile, despite prohibitionist arguments that legalization would lead more young people to use cannabis, the state’s biennial survey that was released in June found that adolescent marijuana use in Colorado declined significantly in 2021.

Polis also signed a bill in June to align state statute to legalize MDMA prescriptions if and when the federal government ultimately permits such use. Also that month, he enacted legislation that provides a regulatory framework for the legal sale of kratom, a plant that advocates say can serve as a safer alternative to opioids and also help treat symptoms of addiction withdrawal.

Colorado voters will potentially see one or two measures on the ballot this November to legalize psychedelics.

Colorado Governor Promotes State’s First-Ever Marijuana Vending Machine

The governor of Colorado is promoting the state’s first-ever marijuana vending machine, which can package, label and dispense cannabis products to adult consumers—with transactions being completed in as little as 50 seconds.

The Automated Cannabis Experience (ACE) recently launched at one of Terrapin Care Station’s retailers in Aurora. Gov. Jared Polis (D) said in a Twitter post on Sunday that it’s the “first fully automated cannabis kiosk on the market.”

“You still need proof of ID and age to be granted entry,” he stressed, sharing a Denver Post article on the vending machine.

According to Terrapin, the machine “provides a ‘triple check’ to ensure only those eligible to purchase cannabis are doing so.”

“It is the perfect option for consumers who know exactly what they want to purchase while making life easier for budtenders who can focus on customers who need more attention!” the company said.

It also emphasized that the machine can “be programmed in multiple languages” to reach a broad array of consumers, and argued that it can free up retail staff “to take more time to support shoppers seeking deeper consultation” while more familiar customers utilize the technology.

At the same time, some people responded to Polis’s tweet by expressing concerns that automating the retail experience could ultimately lead to fewer jobs for humans.

In any case, the marijuana vending machines might be new to Colorado, but other state cannabis markets have adopted similar technology, including California where a machine that can serve four consumers at once launched in 2020. The company behind the technology said it was an especially timely innovation at the time amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A New Hampshire lawmaker responded to Polis’s tweet about the vending machine, writing that the technology “is the future New Hampshire deserves” as the legislature works to advance a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state.

Polis has been an active supporter of the state’s marijuana industry, issuing pardons for prior cannabis convictions and advocating for federal reform to allow licensed marijuana businesses to access basic financial services available to other traditional markets, for example.

At the same time, he’s joked about wanting other states like Texas to maintain prohibitionso that Colorado can reap the tax revenue benefits of having tourists come to buy cannabis.

The state has also taken steps to promote energy efficiency in the cannabis sector and also ensure social equity in the industry is prioritized as it continues to grow and diversify.


House Bill 1279 permits residents to purchase marijuana products over the Internet, with the opportunity to pick up their product or have it delivered to their homes.

I want that in my state! It’s not law yet. I’m pulling for you CO.
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House Bill 1279 permits residents to purchase marijuana products over the Internet, with the opportunity to pick up their product or have it delivered to their homes.

I want that in my state! It’s not law yet. I’m pulling for you CO.
We have that in Maryland....order online and then pick up or have delivered.
@Baron23 We have order online from their menu but we don’t have delivery. I would love to have delivery.

Eventually I’d like to order from other states or Canada and have it delivered to my home.
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@Baron23 We have order online from their menu but we don’t have delivery. I would love to have delivery.

Eventually I’d like to order from other states or Canada and have it delivered to my home.
Personally, i have never used delivery. I have 3-4 dispensaries withing 3-4 miles of me and I just drive there to pick up. Order online then pick up.

Just don't feel like sitting around waiting for a delivery and...and I'm just guessing at this...you need cash. Exact cash, right? Cause CC's are still a no-no and I can't imagine them equipping a delivery driver with a lot of money in order to make change. But...I have never done it so this is all speculation.


Marijuana products in Colorado have lower THC potency than advertised on labels

The THC potency of marijuana products sold in Colorado's dispensaries is lower than what is advertised on label packaging, according to a new study.​

THC plays a significant role in consumers' decision to purchase a particular marijuana product and the price they are willing to pay. However, a study published in the PLOS One journal on April 12 revealed that the THC potency labeled on marijuana products' packaging in Colorado might be inaccurate.

Researchers from the University of Northern Colorado found that the THC potency of the majority of marijuana products analyzed and bought in Colorado's dispensaries is lower than the advertised potency on the product labels, highlighting "a lack of standardized testing protocols, limited regulatory oversight, and financial incentives to market high THC potency likely play a significant role."

The authors of this study purchased 23 marijuana flower samples from ten licensed dispensaries in Colorado, representing 12 different strains.

A third-party lab (Mile High Labs) analyzed the sample using high-performance liquid chromatography.

The findings show that 18 of 23 samples (78.26%) had a lower THC potency than the lowest value reported on the label. On average, the actual amount of THC was 14.98%, while the labeled amount was 20.27% for the low range and 24.10% for the high range.

Furthermore, 16 out of 23 samples (69.56%) had a THC potency that was more than 15% lower than the lowest reported THC potency, and 13 of those samples (56.52%) had a THC potency that was more than 30% lower than the labeled value.

When researchers assessed the highest THC potency claimed on the labels, 20 out of 23 samples (86.95%) had a THC potency more than 15% lower than the highest reported value, with 18 of those samples (78.26%) being more than 30% lower.

"Our results demonstrate that there are substantial, statistically significant differences between THC % by dry weight (hereafter THC potency) reported on consumer labels and our observed test results," the study reads.

The causes of such a discrepancy may depend on multiple factors, such as the different methods used to assess THC potency. However, the authors of this study explain that such a mislabeling might be due to the phenomenon of so-called "lab shopping," where cultivators and dispensaries partner with labs that generate the most desirable lab results to obtain higher THC potency results.

Although this study includes a small number of samples taken into consideration to assess the discrepancy over the THC potency of marijuana products, the findings confirm the results shown in other studies investigating the inflated THC potency.

"Given that increased THC and CBD potency are associated with higher prices, and that potency and price are the major factors driving sales, comparisons relative to the highest reported potency are likely more indicative of what consumers expect when making purchasing decisions," the study reads.

Mislabeling of marijuana products also occurs for CBD products. A recent study showed that almost 60% of CBD products sold in the United States have CBD content that differs from the percentage advertised on their labeling.

Regarding THC potency, two consumers sued a California marijuana company late last year because their products contained less THC potency than what was labeled on the packaging and accused the company of false advertising.

The study highlights that inflated THC potency is likely a widespread problem within the industry, and it would be necessary to conduct other studies on other US legal marijuana products with larger sample sizes to confirm this study's findings further.

"Although we have no power to change the current system, we hope highlighting this issue and educating consumers will affect the change needed to remedy inflated potency of flower products. Addressing this discrepancy will require both changes to the regulatory system and consumer awareness that reported THC potencies are frequently inflated," the study concludes
Long article but quite the cautionary tale. And remember just a handful of years ago the general view was the sky's the limit for any and all cannabis companies.

Colorado’s Weed Market Is Coming Down Hard and It’s Making Other States Nervous

Businesses are shuttering or laying off workers as sales have plunged by $700 million.​

On Jan. 1, 2014, Iraq War veteran Sean Azzariti made headlines worldwide as the first person in the U.S. to buy legal weed.

More than 10 years later, 3D Cannabis, the dispensary in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood where the historic purchase was made, displays a makeshift sign announcing it is “temporarily closed.” The windows and doors on the side of the building have been boarded up. Plastic bags, discarded coffee cups and other trash collect in the corners of the abandoned parking lot.

The dismal state of the historic site is a fitting symbol of the plight of Colorado’s cannabis market. What once was a success story has now left a trail of failed businesses and cash-strapped entrepreneurs in its wake. Regulatory burdens, an oversaturated market and increasing competition from nearby states have all landed major blows, leaving other states with newer marijuana markets scrambling to avoid the same mistakes.

For years, Colorado’s marijuana market minted successful local entrepreneurs who bootstrapped small businesses into national brands. The market drew aspiring cannabis professionals from across the country, whether ambitious college grads with a business idea or investors looking to get in on the green rush.

In 2020, the market soared to $2.2 billion. But just three years later, sales had plummeted to $1.5 billion, leading to layoffs, closures and downsizing. The market downturn has spelled trouble for state finances too: Colorado took in just $282 million in cannabis tax revenues in the last fiscal year, down more than 30 percent from two years earlier.

A messy assortment of factors has led to the pioneering industry’s struggles. A supply glut caused weed prices to plummet in the wake of the pandemic. The spread of cheap, largely unregulated intoxicating hemp-derived products further heightened competitive pressures. And marijuana remains federally illegal, subjecting operators to sky-high taxes and costly regulations.

“It’s like the wind in our cannabis sails in Colorado has just been sucked all the way out,” said Wanda James, founder of Denver dispensary Simply Pure, one of the first recreational dispensaries in the state.

But more than any other factor, Colorado’s market has been sapped by the rapid spread of legalization across the country. Neighbors New Mexico and Arizona are among the 24 states with their own adult-use legal marijuana markets, wreaking havoc on the business plans of dispensaries on Colorado’s southern border. Tourists who once flooded the state for the opportunity to legally experience Rocky Mountain highs have largely disappeared as the novelty has worn off. Even Texans aren’t driving north to buy weed anymore, satisfied with the proliferation of intoxicating hemp products in their own state.

Colorado’s trailblazing cannabis market is now a cautionary tale for states with their own nascent weed programs. A top New York cannabis official recently pointed to Colorado’s dramatic marijuana market downturn to justify regulators’ hesitance to issue too many licenses at once.

“We’re a victim of our own success,” said Jordan Wellington, a partner at Denver-based cannabis policy and public affairs firm Strategies 64. “New markets drawing investment away, new markets drawing purchasing away — all of these different things combined into the soup of the challenges [facing] Colorado.”

Afew dispensary owners in the Mile High City have clung on through the market’s rise and fall.

Greg Gamet, 52, started Dank under the state’s medical marijuana caregiver program in 2009 with $6,000. Like many entrepreneurs who got into the industry in the early days, Gamet did it for the love of the plant. He was already operating as a medical marijuana caregiver, growing weed in his basement, which perfumed his entire house.

When his wife got pregnant, she told him in no uncertain terms to get his grow out of their basement. “Her ballbusting got me to this commercial space,” he says.

Dank is located in an industrial area of Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood. Cannabis consumers have to walk down a long hallway, past an auto shop and an upholstery business, to reach the dispensary at the back of the building. Posters of Bob Marley and botanical cannabis plants decorate the walls.

“The only landlord I could find crazy enough to sign a lease for us to grow weed,” Gamet says of the location. “He hated the government.”

Back in the days when the dispensary was printing money, Dank fed its employees, paid for all of their health insurance costs and even hosted weekly staff parties. Every time a cab driver pulled up to drop off a customer, that cabbie was getting a fiver.

“All that stuff went away,” Gamet says. “You used to run your business and not even worry about budgets … because it was just so much money. How can you screw up 50 percent margins?”

Savvy business owners have managed to survive the downturn, but others have gone out of business or left the state. The number of total cannabis licenses in the state dropped more than 16 percent in the past year alone, according to state data. Cannabis jobs also dropped 16 percent in that same time, according to Vangst’s 2024 jobs report. It was the second straight year of job losses.

Southern Colorado cannabis retailer Maggie’s Farm, which benefited from out-of-state customers, abruptly shut down five of its eight dispensaries earlier this year, while Curaleaf, one of America’s largest cannabis companies, said last January that it had shuttered its production and cultivation facilities in Colorado.

Karson Humiston personally felt the decline as in-person gatherings resumed after pandemic stay-at-home orders.

Humiston moved out to Denver right after graduating college to intern for Gamet in hopes of learning all she could about the industry. Soon, her side hustle that connected job seekers with cannabis industry employers grew so much that she quit the internship to focus on her business full time. Her 2016 cannabis career fair drew huge crowds, putting her business on the map. In 2017, job seekers lined up for hours outside the door.

“It was one of the most successful things we did,” Humiston said. “And then we did it again in 2018. And we did it again in 2019.”

The pandemic put a stop to the large, in-person gatherings. But last summer, with life returning to normal, the team decided to bring back its flagship event.

Not a single company signed up.

“Is something wrong with our sales team?” Humiston joked. She started calling cannabis companies too, who told her they just weren’t hiring.

The growth of Colorado’s cannabis market was still on an upward trajectory when the pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020. Forced to sit at home and armed with government stimulus checks, consumers fueled a boom in weed sales.

Denver initially closed marijuana stores, but public pressure prompted city officials to reverse course and allow dispensaries to stay open.

“We literally sold out in four hours,” says James, of Denver dispensary Simply Pure. “It looked like someone ransacked the place.”

Simply Pure saw its two biggest years during the pandemic, with sales up 60 percent. But that all came crashing down when cultivators thought the pandemic boost would last and increased cultivation capacity, James says.

Wholesale cannabis prices plunged from nearly $1,700 a pound to about $700 a pound, according to Cannabis Benchmarks.

“The only problem … for a long time was that there was never enough weed,” says Jon Spadafora, CEO of Veritas Fine Cannabis, a wholesale cultivator. “It was hard to produce enough to fulfill what the market needed.”

The seemingly ever-increasing demand prompted Veritas to steadily expand its production capabilities. The company was one of the early growers in Colorado to brand their flower products. It inked a deal to be the exclusive grower of Cookies products in the state — one of the most recognizable weed brands in the nation.

But as the country slowly started to return to normal, Colorado’s cannabis market started its precipitous decline.

“We all overestimated the market,” Spadafora says. “We all believed a little bit too much of our own PR.”

The rush to expand cannabis production and the changing dynamics of the pandemic made for a deadly combination of oversupply and price compression. Cultivators invested in expansion, with all their capacity coming online around the same time in 2021, Spadafora explains.

The style of cultivation that Veritas focused on — growing large plants that required a lot of labor — proved too inefficient to compete with other cultivators. In 2022, Veritas downsized — changing its cultivation style, improving efficiency and outsourcing to third parties.

At its height, Veritas had 144 employees. Now, it has 21.

Native Roots followed a similar trajectory. At its Mothership cultivation facility in Denver, the company used to produce about 32,000 pounds of weed a year. By mid-2023, it had cut production by half, says Jason MacDonald, who heads up production.

Production is picking back up, but the company is keeping a careful eye on the market. Part of what helped Native Roots weather the downturn is that it has 21 of its own dispensaries across the state.

“We want to be careful to make sure that we don’t oversupply ourselves,” MacDonald says.

This type of boom-and-bust cycle is to be expected for any state launching a new marijuana market, says Beau Whitney, founder of Whitney Economics, which tracks the cannabis industry. Initially, supply is low and profits are high, which draws in new businesses. As supply and consumer access catch up, prices drop. But there is a reason for newer marijuana-legal states to be cautiously optimistic. As the number of states legalizing cannabis steadily grows, Whitney says, the turbulent pattern of growth and decline should ease as cannabis prices across the country normalize.

While the market in Colorado overall has dropped more than 30 percent from its peak in 2021, sales in counties along the southern border have fallen nearly 50 percent as new markets in New Mexico and Arizona have boomed. Sales in Las Animas County, where Trinidad is located — less than 15 miles from the New Mexico border — have seen the sharpest drop in sales.

But it’s not just the spread of legal weed disrupting Colorado’s market. It’s also how states end up competing on regulations.

New Mexico legalized adult-use marijuana in 2021, with sales launching in April 2022. The state allows adults over 21 to purchase up to two ounces of weed at a time — double Colorado’s 1-ounce limit. Edibles in New Mexico can be produced with higher dosages, too.

Cannabis industry insiders believe New Mexico’s higher purchase limits are drawing residents from nearby states without legal cannabis who used to drive to Colorado to buy weed.

There’s also the added wrinkle of intoxicating hemp cannabinoids. The market for products like Delta-8 THC boomed in recent years as hemp producers figured out how to exploit a loophole in federal laws that allowed them to sell intoxicating products. Since then, many hemp producers have focused on the more lucrative intoxicating products, which aren’t subject to costly state cannabis regulations.

Last summer, Colorado’s Democratic governor Jared Polis signed a bill that severely restricted the sale of such products. But they’re still hurting marijuana sales elsewhere. Demand is higher in states without regulated marijuana. The market in Texas alone is worth $2 to 3 billion, according to a report from Whitney Economics. That’s about 50 percent larger than Colorado’s legal marijuana market.

“When you can buy [intoxicating hemp] products online with a credit card, click the ‘Subscribe and Save’ button so that it’s at your door every two weeks in a discreet package, and you’re not getting carded … why wouldn’t you want to buy online?” says Liz Zukowski, director of public affairs for Native Roots.

Colorado cannabis industry officials say the state’s onerous regulations and high taxes don’t allow them to compete with neighboring states, let alone the burgeoning hemp market. Seed-to-sale tracking, contaminant testing, license renewals, employee badge renewals — all of these regulations are costly to cannabis businesses.

Native Roots has 21 dispensaries across the state, most of which have both medical and recreational licenses. Those licenses come up for renewal separately every year, and there’s no way for the company to renew their licenses together at the same time.

But a bill introduced by Republican Sen. Kevin Van Winkle and Democratic Sen. Julie Gonzales would fix that, along with other regulatory burdens facing the industry like a requirement to use radio frequency identification tags for plant tracking. Polis signed the bill Wednesday.

“We want to look at the house we built 10 years ago and redesign it,” Van Winkle says, “especially when it comes to public safety.”

But that doesn’t address the high cannabis tax rates that rankle the industry. There’s a 15 percent excise tax on both wholesale and retail, which doesn’t account for local taxes. Because cannabis taxes were set by voters at the ballot box in the state’s 2012 legalization amendment and earmarked for school infrastructure projects, lawmakers are limited in what they can do to change them.

"[With] the decline of revenues we’re now having to cut back on these very good programs,” Van Winkle said.

Marijuana’s continued federal illegality is another added cost.

“280E is the biggest problem with the industry by far,” Gamet says, citing a federal tax code that prevents cannabis businesses from taking typical business deductions. “I’m very familiar with that because I’ve been audited every year since 2014. It’s a lot of lawyer expenses.”

It’s not that you can’t make money in the Colorado market anymore, says Chris Woods, CEO of Terrapin Care Station, which started as a medical cannabis operator in Boulder in 2009.

When it comes to maturing cannabis markets, “you always see the inflection points where you’re either going to have to double … your footprint in order to make money in terms of an economy of scale or take out additional capital to kind of deal with the market trends,” he says.

Instead, Woods decided to pull out of the Colorado market entirely, selling its five remaining retail licenses. The company will continue to be based in Colorado, where Woods lives. But going forward, the business will be focused on Pennsylvania — which only has a medical program but seems poised to transition to adult use.

“The size of our business in Pennsylvania is like three, four times the size of what it is in Colorado,” Woods says.

For all the troubles that the Colorado cannabis market has endured, the state’s early foray into legalization has produced successful entrepreneurs — some of whom have expanded far beyond their home state’s borders.

If the now-defunct 3D Cannabis is a symbol of Colorado cannabis’ rise and fall, Wana’s Boulder production facility showcases the state’s lasting influence in the nation’s still-nascent weed industry.

Nancy Whiteman started Wana in 2010 with a focus on making cannabis-infused edibles, eventually deciding to specialize in gummies. At a time when other players in Colorado’s cannabis industry were downsizing or scaling back, Wana’s production facility in Boulder upgraded its kitchen. Now, the gummy production facility boasts the latest technology from the confectionery industry — a huge upgrade from staffers hand-mixing in pots.

For years, Whiteman was the sole owner of Wana, which netted her a windfall thanks to a deal with Canopy Growth, a large Canadian cannabis producer.

The deal was worth a total of $350 million. Canopy initially paid Whiteman $297.5 million for 85 percent of the company, essentially purchasing the option to buy Wana. It catapulted her onto a Forbes ranking of successful businesswomen. This month, on the heels of the Biden administration announcing plans to reclassify cannabis, the deal closed and Whiteman got the rest of her payout.

Whiteman recently announced that she would step down from her leadership role at the company and become a board member of Canopy USA. Wana Chief Marketing Officer Joe Hodas will take the reins as president this month.

The company has expanded to 17 states and Puerto Rico, and now has its sights set on Europe.

“Part of establishing our beachhead here early meant that, when people would come to visit, they would take product home with them,” Hodas says. He recognizes that the company would not have achieved its scale and reach without its early entry into the first legal cannabis market in the nation.

“On a standalone basis, we’re still very successful here.”

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