Colorado Called Model State on Regulating Medical Marijuana


In 2010, Colorado’s legislature established 21 rule-making mandates for regulating medical marijuana. In the two years since, says Governing magazine, nearly 600 medical marijuana centers have been licensed, serving more than 100,000 patients. The experiment hasn't been flawless. Localities are authorized to issue their own moratoriums on commercial centers, and 105 have done so. Fewer dispensaries have opened than originally projected, and the state enforcement office, which is partly funded through licensing fees paid by dispensaries, has had less money than expected.

Colorado still has by far the most licensed distributors in the U.S. (California has more dispensaries, but many remain unauthorized and unregulated), and other states are learning from the relative success of its system. “The Colorado approach is probably the model approach at this point,” says Robert Mikos, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. “They have much more control of the industry. Other states can look at that, and they can learn from Colorado's experience.” Connecticut, which in June became the most recent state to pass legislation, has crafted what some analysts say is the most tightly regulated medical marijuana system yet — and state officials credit the lessons they learned from states like Colorado and New Mexico.

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