On Friday, November 6, the City of Denver hosted the Marijuana Management Symposium, a two-day conference that covered topics like pesticides, hash oil explosions, public relations, and odor problems. The symposium was held at the Colorado Convention Center and featured “a series of strikingly honest roundtable discussions.”
As one of the only major U.S. cities to sell legal recreational marijuana, Denver has served as a testing grounds for the burgeoning marijuana industry, which operates under harsh legal scrutiny at the national level.
“We’ve been through the Jimmy Fallon late-night jokes. Now we can move on from that,” said Daniel Rowland, the city’s communications advisor. “These [marijuana] implementations affect everyone in the community, so you have to make implementations that are unique to your community.”
Because legal marijuana is a novel concept in the U.S., politicians and entrepreneurs often have no choice but to take a trial and error approach to regulation. While stoners might think a title like “Executive Director of Marijuana Policy” would mean all fun and games, it’s serious business for Ashley Kilroy, who holds that title in Denver.
“We had something like eight home explosions that year because of hash oil extraction, so we banned solvent hash oil extraction,” Kilroy said. “But then we were shown that hash oil can be made with isopropyl alcohol at low temperatures without explosion, so we changed. It’s about getting it right.”
Such incidents were part of the learning curve that followed the legalization of marijuana in the Rocky Mountain State. Marijuana advocates would rather hype the financial ripple effects they claim will follow legalization campaigns. For instance, rapper and celebrity Snoop Dogg recently endorsed Funcsac, an Ohio marijuana plastic packaging company. The business sold 450,000 bags in 2014, expects to sell three million this year, and projects sales of more than eight million in 2016.
The U.S. plastics industry currently employs about one million workers and contributes $375 billion to the global economy. As demand for odor-proof, and more importantly, child-safe marijuana packaging increases, the plastics industry is just one of many that could benefit from national legalization. Of course, Snoop Dogg’s endorsement came on the eve of Ohio’s failed vote to legalize marijuana, which leaves Denver on the frontier of the legalization movement.
Most of the Denver symposium’s 150 attendees were from Colorado, like Eric Grossman, a small-town mayor from the southwestern Colorado town of Creede, which is considering opening its first retail marijuana outlet. But the symposium also drew guests from around the country who were eager to collaborate and share information with Denver’s marijuana community.