Workers process marijuana in the trimming room at the Medicine Man dispensary on Dec. 5, 2013. (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press file)

Pot legalization opponent Kevin Sabet talks on Colorado’s weed experiment

Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet, in Denver for the Biennial, speaks on what he's learned from Colorado cannabis

What have we learned so far about Colorado’s marijuana experiment, as the state’s legalization of adult cannabis use has often been called?

In the 18 months of recreational marijuana sales in the state, hundreds of shops have opened, laws have been enacted and altered, and there has been rapid expansion of commercial cultivation and product manufacturing.

While the first full year of sales was generally seen as a success, with $700 million in marijuana sales ($385.9 million for medical marijuana and $313.2 million for recreational cannabis), there were a number of conflicts and controversies.

Questions cropped up surrounding the potency and popularity of infused edibles, less-than-estimated tax revenue and concerns about the impact of legalization on adolescents.

Has what’s happened in Colorado reshaped the opinions of a prominent anti-legalization advocate?

Kevin Sabet, the co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, visited The Cannabist studios to talk about marijuana on Thursday before taking part in a cannabis symposium that’s part of the Biennial of the Americas exhibition and includes panelists Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Marijuana editor Ricardo Baca asks Sabet for his assessment of the state’s 18-plus months selling recreational cannabis.

“I’ve learned that there’s a very powerful marijuana industry in Denver,” Sabet says in the above video.

“I’ve learned that that industry, no matter what they’re saying during the campaign of, ‘Yes, we want regulations, yes, we want control, yes, we want to regulate edibles’ — when push comes to shove, and you’re talking about how edibles should actually be regulated, it’s always the lowest common denominator.”

Sabet also talks about what he’s observed at drug-abuse treatment centers in the state, where he says there’s a “systematic denial that marijuana is even a problem.”