Marijuana

Former Marijuana Regulator Joins Cannabis Consulting Firm

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Denver Relief Consulting

The consulting arm of Denver Relief, a cannabis grower and retailer in Colorado's capital, today announced that Laura Harris, former director of the state Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), has joined the firm as a regulatory adviser. Harris, who took over what was then the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division in late 2011, retired last August after 30 years of working for the revenue department. In an email message that was leaked to The Denver Post, Harris said she had planned to stay at the MED until mid-2014, after the newly legal recreational pot stores were up and running, "but I found that the personal toll of this job was too much." She added that "I found that I was becoming ineffective with my colleagues at those times when it was necessary to address areas of disagreement."

When I interviewed Harris for my 2013 Reason cover story about legalization in Colorado, I found her to be refreshingly candid. Although Colorado's medical marijuana regulations were widely cited as a model for other states, she made it clear that they were largely arbitrary and difficult  to enforce. She questioned the rule requiring dispensaries to grow at least 70 percent of their inventory (which applies to recreational stores until this October) and the practicality of developing child-resistant packaging for cannabis-infused foods. "The current code is extremely difficult to regulate," she said. "What you will hear from many in industry is that this works. Well I'm not as optimistic about it working. If it worked, we would be able to present evidence of how the model works toward good enforcement." This was two months before the state auditor released a report that was sharply critical of medical marijuana regulation in Colorado.

Harris, who worked as a revenue agent and a criminal investigator before becoming Colorado's chief cannabis regulator, had a pretty steep learning curve. "Even in college,," she said, "I did not partake. I can say that honestly. I had friends in law enforcement. My first husband was in law enforcement, which was the environment in which I was raised. My perception of what marijuana was when I came into this division is the little flowers in the baggie that I had seen others carry around." A year or so later, she had learned "much more about the canabis plant, much more about the theory around its medicinal effects and much more about what is actually extracted from the plants other than the flower—the resin and all the products that are created from the resin. So yes, its been very educational."

Now Harris will be educating others—not about the plant so much as the often baffling rules surrounding its use. "It's exciting to be able to bring my expertise on cannabis regulation to Denver Relief Consulting, a firm that has demonstrated a commitment to establishing a responsible model for the entire nation to follow," she says in a press release. "As more states follow Colorado's regulatory lead, both in medical and retail cannabis, it is imperative that individual governments have a framework in which to work so that there are no unintended consequences." Harris' transition is yet another sign that marijuana is becoming an industry like any other, faster than many of us anticipated.

Related: "DEA Agent Joins Marijuana Industry"

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  1. My perception of what marijuana was when I came into this division is the little flowers in the baggie that I had seen others carry around.” A year or so later, she had learned “much more about the canabis plant…”

    Is this a case of becoming overqualified or becoming underqualified to do one’s job?

  2. The revolving door continues to revolve… another former Guvmint employee goes into … the industry they regulated.

    1. Yeah, I wonder how long the public fascination will be for stories like this, particularly re pot. Skill sets is skill sets.

      1. So CO is a job magnet for towels. Excellent

  3. When I interviewed Harris for my 2013 Reason cover story about legalization in Colorado, I found her to be refreshingly candid. Although Colorado’s medical marijuana regulations were widely cited as a model for other states, she made it clear that they were largely arbitrary and difficult to enforce. […]
    Now Harris will be educating others?not about the plant so much as the often baffling rules surrounding its use. “It’s exciting to be able to bring my expertise on cannabis regulation to Denver Relief Consulting, a firm that has demonstrated a commitment to establishing a responsible model for the entire nation to follow,”

    Am I being overly critical in pointing out that the regulators in Colorado, Washington and pretty much everywhere MJ will ever be legal… ever, are profiting off the environment they help create by becoming Regulation Navigators for industry firms?

    1. Exactly! The Corruption is out of control. Look at my posts about Colorado’s corrupt ‘regulators’-

      The prohibition enforcement arm has made things legal for themselves — not the rest of us. They profit–we all still go to jail for doing what they are now doing.

      Cannabis is the safest therapeutic substance known to man and is being regulated like plutonium should be but isn’t.

      I am outraged at the corruption! And EVERYONE should be.

  4. I’ll take a regulatory capture trend as a good sign, to the extent it makes it harder to criminalize activities if government employees and recently retired government employees would also be implicated.

    1. No, the regulatory capture just gives them thousands of new ways to criminalize your behavior because you didn’t fill out the proper forms.

  5. She questioned the rule requiring dispensaries to grow at least 70 percent of their inventory (which applies to recreational stores until this October) and the practicality of developing child-resistant packaging for cannabis-infused foods.

    Well, why not? Liquor manufacturers and retailers have to put up with the same fussy overregulation.

    Oh, wait. No, they don’t.

  6. oh my god, can regulating pot shops be any more corrupt? 3 pot enforcement directors with ‘questionable’ relationships with the ‘regulated’ pot ‘industry’.

    Matt Cook creates HB1284 (‘seed to sale’ tracking RFID chips on the safest therapeutic substance known to man) which violates patients and caregiver rights back in 2010-2011. He retires the day before the law is implemented to be an ‘industry consultant’ for $350/hr until he is hired by a ‘seed to sale’ tracking company as COO 2 months ago.

    http://blogs.westword.com/late…..ulting.php

    http://www.marijuanadispensary…..ok-as-coo/

  7. Dan Hartman took over for Matt Cook as head regulator position for the state MMED in July of 2011. Dan was fired in Oct 2011 for being too ‘cozy with the people he was supposed to be regulating.

    http://blogs.westword.com/late…..harris.php

    “This explanation is unlikely to satisfy Hartman supporters. Expect speculation that the real motivation for these shifts was the sense that he had grown too cozy with the medical marijuana industry he was charged with regulating, as demonstrated by letters published in cities considering MMJ retail bans in today’s election. Those documents found Hartman quietly lobbying to reject such measures, because prohibiting the dispensary model would leave such communities in an essentially unregulated environment.”

    http://blogs.westword.com/late…..harris.php

    And now Laura Harris goes from being head pot regulator to part of the industry? Three of three head regulators suspect and an F audit from the state auditor for enforcement and implementation of the Orwellian over regulation of the tree of life.

    The CO pot regulators seem to be building the empire that they plan on benefiting from and no one seems to care how corrupt it is. ‘Foul play’ would be called in any other instance. I wonder if the feds are okay with an F audit and the head ‘regulators’ joining the industry they were supposed to regulate.

  8. I’m (PCRLP) over here begging the state to ABIDE by the Constitution when it comes to patients and caregivers rights– begging regulators to simply follow the law — and both the DoR and the CDPHE get F audits for not enforcing and inappropriately enforcing the law, inappropriately taking and spending millions of dollars and ‘possible’ violation of Constitutional rights and now the three head pot cops all acting corruptly.

    I had respect for Laura Harris when she boldly took over and declared HB1284 and 300 pages of rules under it unworkable and unreasonable but now I realize she is no better than the rest.

  9. Did you hear of this new MLM company that allows you to buy or sell cannabis hemp based products? It’s now legal in all 50 states, what’s your opinion on this?

    http://cannabisnetworkmarketing.com

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