420 Farmers Market

We already have marijuana dispensaries and collectives. Soon we’ll have recreational pot shops and even cannabis vending machines. So why not a farmers market for Mary Jane?

A businessman in Colorado wants to start a farmers market for weed in Boulder. The idea is to give vendors a better way to reach consumers, and if things go well, Justin Hartfield hopes other states that legalize pot might copy the plan.
Hartfield is CEO of weedmaps.com and managing partner of a marijuana venture capital group called Ghost Group. He wants to offer vendors better access to consumers and consumers better choices in weed.

The Boulder Farmers’ Market would make the perfect place for a trial, he said, since it already serves as a model for other farmers market across the country. “It would be the perfect place to have a proposal go through.”

Hartfield said he’s feeling out city politicians and planning officials to see what they think. But observers suggest he faces an uphill battle. Colorado’s pot-legalization regulations are designed to keep pot sales indoors, and it’s unlikely Hartfield will find a loophole.

Colorado was one of two states, along with Washington, that legalized recreational pot when voters went to the polls in November. But the law that Colorado voters enacted, and the regulations being drawn up to enforce it, focus on keeping sales limited to closed, secure locations.

Plus, city zoning prohibits any commercial activity on agricultural land aside from the sale of produce grown there. Most pot is grown indoors and in industrial zones, not agricultural areas.

“It’s not even allowed for food, let alone for recreational marijuana,” said David Driskell, executive director of community planning for Boulder.

That isn’t to say a 420 farmers market is out of the question. If Boulder officials decided they were OK with the idea, they could probably make it happen, Driskell said. And Shawn Coleman, a marijuana industry consultant, said proposals like Hartfield’s show the public is interested in expanding the options for recreational pot.

“I think such initiatives are a sign that there is some impatience in the public for the access to safe, regulated marijuana,” Coleman said. “This proposal as well as proposals for on-site consumption facilities are ideas that have merit and have been brought by earnest people seeking to have Amendment 64 realized in a way that truly removes the negative stigma of marijuana and treats it like any other consumer product, and I applaud them for that.

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