As the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, in 2012, Colorado has a lot to teach Massachusetts about dealing with legal pot.
Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones has two main pieces of advice for state and local lawmakers: Start strict, and require the industry to use green energy.
Last year, the Boulder City Council created an 11-member Marijuana Advisory Panel of health experts, marijuana consumers and city government officials. The idea was to monitor Boulder’s marijuana industry and recommend changes to existing regulations as they see fit. The panel started out with relatively tight rules on things like the concentration of marijuana shops and limited operation hours.
“Start out strict. You can always relax your regulations as the industry proves itself,” Jones advised Massachusetts lawmakers in a Morning Edition interview.
Jones also warned about marijuana’s heavy demand for energy, as indoor facilities usually require 24-hour lighting and temperature control. Researchers found that pot-growing operations were consuming as much electricity as 35,000 homes in Colorado. Jones suggested requiring marijuana growers to use renewable industry or buy offsets from the beginning.
“It will increase your energy output, so you might as well get some added community benefit from that by having it be green energy,” she said.
Investors are predicting a robust market for legal marijuana in Massachusetts. An investment firm in the cannabis industry, The Arcview Group, says the market could top $1 billion by 2020. Massachusetts could be especially attractive to so-called pot tourists from surrounding, heavily populated states where pot is still illegal.
In November, Massachusetts — along with California, Nevada and Maine — voted to legalize recreational marijuana.
This was welcome news for Jones, who says Colorado’s current population boom and rising home prices make it more difficult to accommodate people who move to Colorado for a legal high.
“Marijuana is one of our many amenities but we don’t need to be the only state in the country known for it, so we welcome some other states to the party,” Jones said.
Click the audio atop this post for the full interview with Mayor Jones.
This article was originally published on January 17, 2017.
This segment aired on January 17, 2017.