Hospitality, Police and Policy Advocates Come Together to Address Marijuana Regulatory and Enforcement Practices

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The stage is set for California and other states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, joining the ranks of Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska. Lessons learned on the policy implications and public safety impacts (or lack thereof) of legalizing marijuana will be explored in a special session at the Responsible Hospitality Institute's Public Safety and Policing Nightlife Leadership Summit on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California, which will convene law enforcement, policymakers, regulatory agencies and hospitality industry members.

Summit explores regulatory and enforcement of legalized marijuana.

Legalization Forum

It is only prudent cities and states prepare for marijuana legalization and the impact on nightlife and police.

On February 20, 2015, a special forum on the policy and safety implications of the legalization of marijuana will be featured at the Responsible Hospitality Institute's Public Safety and Policing Nightlife Districts Leadership Summit in Los Angeles. Hospitality industry representatives and police will come together at this landmark event to address regulatory and enforcement practices.

Representatives from Washington and Colorado who were involved in design and implementation of regulations will be joined by two national advocacy organizations promoting responsible alcohol and drug policy. The panel will particularly explore the potential intersection of legal marijuana use and alcohol consumption in nightlife settings and special events.

With California expected to legalize marijuana in 2016, key stakeholders from Washington and Colorado will provide insights and lessons learned in their states, which approved legalization in 2013 and began implementation in late 2014.

Panelists include:
-Amanda Reiman, Manager, Marijuana Law and Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, Berkeley, California
-Chris Marr, Former Member, Washington Liquor Control Board, Olympia, Washington
-John Bodnovich, Executive Director, American Beverage Licensees, Bethesda, Maryland
-Tony Lopez, Commander, Denver Police Department, Denver, Colorado

Among the regulatory and policy topics that will be discussed include:
-What were the driving forces to legalize recreational marijuana? What were the repelling forces against legalization?
-What were the preliminary “checks and balances” discussed and implemented?
-What are the most important lessons learned in structuring legislation? Is the alcoholic beverage licensing system the most appropriate entity to regulate marijuana sales and distribution?
-How has public safety been impacted (or not) by the legalization of recreational marijuana? What are additional responsibilities for police to consider in nightlife districts?
-How will on-site consumption of marijuana be facilitated and managed within nightlife settings, particularly if establishments allow vaporizers and edibles?
-How will marijuana consumption be regulated and managed at outdoor events?
-What is the most appropriate distribution mechanism? Are existing "age specific product" retailers appropriate distribution systems at the retail level?
-What safeguards need to be taken to protect establishments that dispense cannabis products?
-How is this different than alcohol products?
-What hours should retail outlets operate? What level of training is recommended for employees?
-What guidelines should be established in regards to packaging, dosage limits, potency limits, and level of THC per product?
-How can impairment by cannabis be monitored and measured? What are the implications for impaired driving policies and server training?
-What are harm reduction strategies for the consumption of cannabis?
-What were the most prevalent concerns that have not materialized?
-Knowing what you do now, what recommendations would you make to other states considering legalization?

"The cost of policing, prosecuting and jailing people for possession of marijuana is draining our public funds and city budgets and carried out in a racially disparate way. Legalization of marijuana can ensure a safer product is on the market, reduce youth access, AND generate tax revenue, which can be channeled to public health and community initiatives,” said Amanda Reiman, PhD MSW | Manager, Marijuana Law and Policy, Drug Policy Alliance.

Given shifting public opinion and recent changes in state policies, it is only prudent that cities and states prepare for marijuana legalization.

The Responsible Hospitality Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1983 with a mission to assist businesses and communities to plan safe and vibrant places to socialize. The Sociable City Network serves as the central access point for the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI)'s full range of nighttime economy research, tools and expertise from worldwide practitioners, city leaders and organizations. Additional information about RHI, the Summit and Sociable City Network can be found at http://www.rhiweb.org or you can call 831.469.3396.

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Jim Peters

Alicia Scholer
@sociablecity
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