Colorado provided one of the earliest legalization efforts for marijuana in the country. The business has been big here, and many have received help for issues like anxiety. In some cases, cannabis can help those 19% of adults and 31% of adolescents who experience anxiety every day. However, crime still surrounds the cannabis world, and the city is trying to take steps to minimize this problem.
The Problems Being Experienced
The legalization of cannabis has been good to Colorado in so many ways. A high influx of profitable sales and more have helped this market expand. However, crime has also gone up in ways that many anti-cannabis advocates feared. The exact crime increase mostly centers around larceny or thefts associated with the cannabis industry in the area.
For example, in 2019 alone, there were 213 crimes centered around these dispensaries. Around 57% of these crimes are thefts or people breaking into dispensaries to steal goods. Such crimes are not uncommon in other states with legal marijuana use. However, Colorado complicates this issue by not providing a detailed guideline for safety and protection measures.
That’s why the Department of Excise & Licenses has been debating working to create new laws and guidelines for the city dictating solutions for this problem. Many of these ideas center around increasing the severity of theft punishments and also include the concept of standardized storage guidelines. However, such rules would likely be controversial for the many members of the cannabis community.
The Potential Solutions
One idea floated around by many experts is to increase the penalties for robbery and theft in the state. It is one of the most forgiving of all states in the country. For instance, theft of $750 or more is just a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 6-18 months of jail or a fine between $500-5,000. Compare that to Massachusetts, where thefts of $1,200 or less can cause a one-year jail sentence and a fine of $1,500.
Education is also vital for those improving this situation. Teaching residents safe cannabis use will help minimize many legal troubles. For example, studies find that 52% of all personal injury lawsuits are caused by car accidents. Many of these accidents occur due to incapacitation. By teaching people not to smoke and drive, this issue could be minimized.
The state is also floating the idea of putting safe storage requirements on all dispensaries. This step includes things like locking up their money and their product in a safe at all times. All refrigerated products may also be locked up. It may seem surprising to many that such steps are not taken. Many dispensaries do. But a new law could make it legally required.
Those without a safe would need to put in security measures, like guard posts, cameras, and alarm systems with strobe lights. But, again, it seems like such steps would already be taken by most dispensaries. Unfortunately, however, most of those in Denver still don’t seem to take the threat of theft seriously. Even after many break-ins and major robberies have occurred throughout the city and state.
Some residents in Denver butt heads with these ideas, claiming it is an attempt at broader regulation and control of the industry. Others believe that such guidelines are critical and should be expanded. They argue that medicine and alcohol both have strict rules and that cannabis should be no different. That kind of logic makes sense to a lot of people in the city.
Understandably, dispensaries and dealers in the city itself are against many of these ideas. Many call the ideas Draconian and unfair, stating it could affect their potential profits. That said, unless more dispensaries take this threat seriously and start taking measures to protect themselves, there is likely little that they can do. The hearing took place on September 10 and guidelines and concepts are still being debated and questioned.