Pot-shop promos remain illegal in Boulder, but rule could be reviewed later
The Boulder City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a series of rule changes for the local cannabis industry, and planned to reevaluate some key matters later this year.
Most of the nearly 20 actions taken have little or no effect on the public, but are of interest to people who work in the industry. For example, cold-water extraction is now legal at cultivation facilities, and marijuana businesses now must keep phones on their premises at all times so that local officers have a guaranteed point of contact in case of emergency.
But one of the rule changes concerns promotional items, which have everything to do with the public.
It’s illegal in Boulder for marijuana businesses to give anything away for free or below market value, no matter how cheap the item may be. Dispensaries are prohibited from handing out stickers and lighters with their logos on them, and also cannot sell marijuana at a vast discount that brings the product’s price below market rate.
On Tuesday, the council voted to clarify the definition for promotional items, in order to distinguish between items that have secondary purposes beyond promotion — lighters and cups, for example — and items such as stickers that have no secondary purpose.
The reason this is of interest to the council and to the Marijuana Advisory Panel that it convened is because of a strong general desire to prevent youth from accessing or acquiring cannabis. If stickers get out, they could end up on kids’ skateboards, city attorneys have noted.
But businesses maintain their own desire to promote their products, so the city has had to consider “balancing” the businesses’ want with the effort to limit advertising to youth, Deputy City Attorney Sandra Llanes said at the council meeting.
For now, the balance is tipped entirely to the side of limitation. Following the meeting, it remains illegal for promotional items to be given away or for products to be sold below their true values.
“The changes we proposed originally and whatever we do tonight will not allow people to give away marijuana,” Councilman Sam Weaver underscored.
That’s something that could get further review soon, though, dependent on whether the council decides it wants the Marijuana Advisory Panel to continue meeting. Council members will likely discuss that this summer, Llanes said.
Before the council voted Tuesday, it solicited public input on the various rule changes. Shawn Coleman, former council candidate and current director of government affairs for local dispensary Terrapin Care Station, was the only person who signed up ahead of time to speak at the public hearing — something he credited to the consensus-based recommendations of the Marijuana Advisory Panel.
Hearings on pot laws, he said, “used to be six, seven hours long.”
“The reason it’s just me,” he added, “is the MAP panel’s done great work.”
Council members have been very complimentary of the panel’s work in the past, and were so on Tuesday.
“Having sat through a few of those previous hearings that were much longer than this one, it is very helpful to have consensus built,” Weaver said.