Colorado eases marijuana regulations amid sales slump, layoffs

Matt Whittaker

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Across Colorado) Several Marijuana Enforcement Division rules that go into effect next month will make compliance easier for Colorado marijuana businesses facing sales declines and layoffs, an industry group said.

On Friday, the Lakewood-based division of the Colorado Department of Revenue issued a bulletin with guidance on rule changes that will go into effect Dec. 1, including eased rules on social equity designations, record keeping and testing for a specific type of mold.

The new rules come at a time of slumping marijuana sales in Colorado as legislation limits medical purchases, inflation eats into personal spending, the illegal market offers competition and more states legalize pot, reducing marijuana tourism to the Centennial State.

State data show total marijuana sales of $146.8 million in September, down from $181.1 in the same month a year ago. Money the state earned in marijuana taxes and fees fell to $26.3 million from $36.8 million.

“With the current decline in sales, we are seeing multiple rounds of layoffs across our industry, representing thousands of lost jobs,” said Tiffany Goldman, board chair of the Wheat Ridge-based Marijuana Industry Group. “The state must appreciate that the marijuana industry is an important part of our economy, and we cannot withstand more pressure in the form of unnecessary regulations and new taxes that put small businesses at risk.”

Based on Friday’s notice, it appears the local industry will get several breaks in terms of regulation.

“Several of the rules listed in this bulletin were put in place to make it a little bit easier to be compliant, and we are massively supportive of them,” said Truman Bradley, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. 

Starting next month, regulated marijuana products intended for oral consumption or skin and body products will be exempt from aspergillus testing. Until then, confirmation of required testing isn’t an enforcement priority, the Marijuana Enforcement Division bulletin said. 

“Some of the products never fail for aspergillus because they have a kill step in the standard process,” Bradley said.

Aspergillus is a genus of mold species that can cause infections, fatal diseases and allergic responses, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Also, a rule revision and clarification says licensees may maintain required records in a digital format as long as they are “easily accessible and readily understood by a reasonably prudent business person,” the bulletin said.

Additionally, state findings of suitability for social equity licenses will be valid for two years from the approval date, instead of just one year. The new rule applies to all findings of suitability that are currently valid.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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