Working in Colorado at Festivals is an interesting experience. As you may know, the retail sale of Cannabis was legalised in the state in January 2014 after amendment 64 to the constitution was passed on the 6th November 2012.
Colorado’s youth marijuana consumption dipped after legalisation and is now much lower than the national average. However, the Governor has not ruled out making Cannabis illegal again.
My first brush with weed in the state came during a festival that we were working on where there was a Head Shop adjacent to the main stage. The shop did a good trade during normal non-festival days and was expected to do a roaring trade during the festival.
However, we had one minor problem. As many people will know, Cannabis is assimilated into the bloodstream through inhalation by non-users. The Police Service in the Town where the festival was taking place found out that their staff on duty were to be monitored at regular intervals throughout the three day festival. He spoke to us at length about the issue as he understood that any of his officers coming into contact with people smoking Cannabis on the site if tested would potentially show up as positive for Cannabis use in the screening and would have to be immediately suspended as the law indicates.
Four days before the festival a SAG meeting was held to discuss the matter and to identify if anyone had any bright ideas. The shop could not be closed down as it infringed the human rights of both the owner and those wishing to smoke cannabis during the festival. After a three hour debate, it was decided that an injunction would be raised for the three days of the festival where Cannabis could only be sold and/or smoked within the confines of the shop and integrated café.
The owner raised all sorts of objections as he felt that the police were infringing his human rights. However, after much deliberation, the owner agreed not to oppose the order as he would have to shut his shop until the dispute was settled. He agreed to the order but asked for a metre line to be drawn along the frontage of his shop so that his guests could move outside without Cannabis and still watch the show.
The moral of this story is really that the legalisation of Cannabis for medicinal purposes or for general consumption is not an easy or quick debate and you have to take all ancillary elements into consideration to ensure that if legalised, the legalisation does not fall at the first hurdle owing to elements not being taken into consideration.
There are many lessons to be learned, not least that Cannabis can go straight into the bloodstream of those not smoking it, that law enforcers or even drivers in a car with other cannabis smokers will be consuming it perhaps unintentionally.
Also that by legalising the drug, Cannabis use in youth groups fell year on year in the state.
An interesting dilemma and not one for a knee-jerk reaction. Food for thought.