CENTRAL CITY, Colo. —Don Boring owns a grocery store, a liquor store and now, a medical-marijuana dispensary. The main difference among them is that he has to produce his own pot inventory.
Colorado set a Sept. 1 deadline for dispensaries to show they grow at least 70 percent of the pot they sell — the first requirement of its kind in the 14 states, along with Washington, D.C., that have medical-marijuana laws. Lawmakers added the requirement to Colorado's new law in hopes of keeping small-time caregivers from growing pot in their basements to sell to dispensaries.
Boring knows the types well. When he opened Annie's Dispensary last spring, he got so many visits from caregivers trying to sell him pot that he came up with a name for them —"guys on bicycles with backpacks."
Boring doesn't see those guys anymore.
"The days of the guys on the bicycles with a backpack selling marijuana are over, and I think that's a good thing," Boring said.
Lawmakers who supported Colorado's new pot law hoped the grow-your-own requirement would force shadowy corner pot shops to close and alleviate fears that the marijuana fueling Colorado's pot industry is coming from illegal sources. Lawmakers wanted to keep better track of how medical marijuana is produced.
But dispensary owners complain the growing requirement is confusing and impossible to enforce.
For one, the law isn't clear on how pot shops arrive at the 70 percent figure. Is it 70 percent by weight? Is it determined by the month? By the day? And what about pot shops barred by zoning from adding a growing operation? The law isn't clear, and pot shop owners have a lot of questions about how the growing requirement will be enforced.
State authorities say it could be a year before pot shops know how the growing requirement will be measured. A month ago, Colorado received 809 applications for marijuana center licenses, though state officials say it will be next July before it will start awarding the licenses.