Publication Detail

Subritzky, T., Lenton, S. and Pettigrew, S. (2020). Practical lessons learned from the first years of the regulated recreational cannabis market in Colorado. In Decorte, T., Lenton, S. and Wilkins, C. (eds.) Legalizing cannabis: Experiences, lessons and scenarios. Routledge, London. [CH219]

In 2014, to much fanfare, Colorado implemented the world’s first legal and regulated seed-to-sale cannabis market for adults. The Retail Marijuana Code (RMC) was built on established medical cannabis regulations and multi-stakeholder collaboration. As a commercial model, the approach is not ideal from a public health perspective, although strict regulation has some advantages over continued criminalisation of cannabis. The chapter consists of three parts. Part 1 includes: (i) latest market insights around patterns of consumption in the State; (ii) a brief review of the emerging literature on the CRCM; (iii) the public health framework employed in Colorado; and (iv) a summary of the Retail Marijuana Code (RMC) and its evolution. In Part 2, tensions between public health and commercial profit are explored with a focus on: (i) constitutional constraints on public health best practice; (ii) marketing and advertising, most notably at the coal face of regulating controls by for-profit firms; (iii) budtenders, the sales people in retail stores; and (iv) the public health risks associated with the application of chemical pesticides for protection of commercial crops. Part 3 brings the material together to highlight important lessons learned from the CRCM for regulators in other jurisdictions considering the legalisation of cannabis for adult use.

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