Canada Needs to Look to Colorado for Legalization Framework says Expert

A policy maker from Colorado’s recreational legalization movement said Canada should look to his state as an example of how to regulate cannabis.

Vicente Sederberg LLC policy analyst helped craft the legal framework for Colorado’s legal cannabis sales and will speak on his experience at a policy forum on Thursday at the University of British Columbia.

Livingston said one important point to consider is the tax structure – consumers will pay a premium for legal cannabis, but at a certain point customers will balk at the price increase and purchase instead from the black market.

“Maybe’s it’s 10 per cent higher than the black market price, maybe 20 per cent, but it’s really kind of hard to know,” said Livingston, who favoured starting sales with a low tax rate and then slowly increasing the rate over time to attract as many customers as possible.

Livingston said that compared to Washington, another U.S. state that legalized cannabis at the same time, Colorado was in a better position for legalized sales with an existing medical marijuana system that made the state, “the epicentre of regulated marijuana commerce.”

As one of the first places to legalize, Livingston said other jurisdictions looked to Colorado for how to go through the process and avoid mistakes already made.

One of the biggest hurdles Colorado regulators went though was creating the framework for edible products. Livingston said most of the available edible products were transitioned from sales for the medical side where there had been no regulation on clear dosage.

“We said that all adult use marijuana products need to be demarcated in a way that you can differentiate the 10 mg serving size,” said Livingston. “Let’s say you have a chocolate bar — you need to be able to break off a piece easily that is 10mg.”

By beginning to regulate the city’s dispensaries already, Livingston said Vancouver has positioned itself as an early policy maker in Canada for other cities to learn from as legalization takes place.

Vancouver is a great example,” Livingston said. “By taking the lead, they’ll be able to show the rest of Canada the best ways to license.”