How often do you take a large black market, flip a switch and turn it into a highly regulated one?
When Colorado legalized retail sales of cannabis in 2014, license applications poured into the City and County of Denver. While city officials had spent months preparing, they still faced the mammoth task of managing the demands of a novel regulatory program that came with unforeseen, real-time challenges and a high degree of outside scrutiny. Responding to those demands involved a coordinated effort across multiple city departments utilizing industry-leading technology to streamline application intake, back-office workflows, field inspections and community engagement.
As cannabis continues to emerge from the shadows, local governments will need
to stand up regulatory processes that guide market participants into an organized system while maintaining public safety. As of January 2019, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana with 10 states and Washington, DC legalizing marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21.
With legalization comes the need for regulation, and this is no simple matter. A
recent study of cannabis licensing by the Center for Digital Government found that in states where the product is legal, it is common to require licenses for growers, manufacturers and dispensers. In some jurisdictions, such as Jackson County, Ore., and the City of Sacramento, companies that transport the product must obtain licenses as well.
In Denver, a business involved in recreational cannabis must obtain one
or more of six different local licenses: for operating a store, cultivating the product, producing cannabis-infused products, running a testing facility, transporting cannabis, or operating an establishment or special event where cannabis is consumed on premises.
State licensing departments usually play a role, as well. Specific policies will vary by community, but all local governments will grapple with complex challenges as they implement cannabis regulation. In the face of those challenges, one of the best tools local governments can use to streamline and improve visibility into the
regulatory process is a fully integrated digital licensing solution.
In the Center for Digital Government’s white paper, A Fast, Effective Path to Marijuana Regulation, visit the frontlines of cannabis regulation and learn how cities like Denver and others are leveraging new technologies to coordinate regulatory efforts, manage data between departments, and to report results to the public and stakeholders.