Praising Colorado’s approach, members of an international delegation shared their concerns and hopes as they move toward legalization of marijuana.
After a tour of the RiverRock dispensary Wednesday in Denver, government officials and legislators from Uruguay, Mexico and Canada said Colorado is proving that pot can be legally regulated, leading to significant opportunities and changes for their countries.
“This gives us a big lesson,” said René Fujiwara, a congressman in Mexico. “There are facilities like this in my country, but people there are armed, doing it illegally and provoking a lot of social damage.”
The tour was led by RiverRock co-owner Norton Arbelaez, who told the delegation that the business side of legal marijuana was not a simple undertaking.
René Fujiwara, a congressman in Mexico, inspects marijuana plants at the RiverRock dispensary in Denver during a tour with other members of an international delegation. (Ryan Parker, The Denver Post)
“This is not a get-rich-quick scheme,” Arbelaez said. “This is social entrepreneurship that hopefully, if everything is done right, yes, there will be some reward. But we’re about the long term here, not the short term.”
Julio Bango, a congressman in Uruguay, said the legalization and regulation of marijuana would not have an “excessive” impact on that county’s economy but would be a tremendous asset for public policy.
“This will be another tool against drug trafficking. … It’s going to allow us to separate the marijuana market from the other hard drug markets,” Bango said. “We’re encouraging health and safety.”
Uruguayan lawmakers are debating legislation that would make the country the first to license and enforce laws pertaining to the production, distribution and sale of pot, which officials have reported might be sold for a dollar per gram.
Libby Davies, a member of the Canadian Parliament, said Colorado has become an integral part of the legalization debate for her country.
“What I’ve learned (here), most of all, is to understand that there is a credible, regulatory system that can be put in place,” Davies said.