Voters made the sale and use of marijuana legal in the state of Colorado several years ago, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t restrictions on what is still a Schedule 1 narcotic in many other states.
Recently, Denver police shuttered 26 marijuana businesses they consider to be “operating illegally.” In addition to the business closures, at least 12 people have been arrested in connection with the raids. The arrests and police action came after a year-long investigation which found that the people arrested, and potentially others, were illegally possessing and distributing marijuana.
Details as to why the businesses were forcibly closed and these individuals arrested are sketchy at this point. Some have said the businesses themselves are legal, but some activities by the owners were not. Officials have gone on record to say why, specifically, the businesses have been suspended, though they have said they are only closed pending investigation to find out “what’s going on.”
That’s a question many people are asking at this point. What laws have been broken, and how were they broken? If the businesses are legal, what did they do that was not? One thing that was clear is that it was the city of Denver that issued the closures and made the arrests, not federal authorities.
In the recent past, federal authorities enforcing the nationwide ban on marijuana have run up against conflicts with local authorities in cities and states where certain forms of possession and distribution are legal.
Worse, due to the proliferation of misinformation and rumor, many consumers are unaware of just what that law says. While it’s the responsibility of every citizen to know and understand the law, it’s difficult to do so when rules change dramatically with jurisdiction. And it’s not helpful when the top law enforcement agent in the land, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is a strong opponent of marijuana legalization who believes the federal government should be cracking down on states that have legalized pot.
All of these conflicting rules, laws, and opinions translate to frustration and confusion for consumers and businesses alike as they attempt to navigate this emerging market of legal marijuana.
This is yet another example of how better communication could help everyone involved in the situation. Authorities need to communicate with businesses and consumers, while consumers and businesses make sure the information they distribute is accurate and up to date.
Considering the current shifting cultural opinion of legalized pot, that communication is fraught with potential potholes and proverbial landmines. Our recommendation? Tread lightly, and hire professionals to help you craft your message