Marijuana plants with their buds covered in white crystals called trichomes, are a few weeks away from harvest in the "Flower Room" at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. (Seth Perlman, Associated Press file)

If we could legalize marijuana all over again: Setting different ground rules

Legalizing marijuana in Colorado wasn’t the neatest and tidiest process, but the state deserves a pat on the back, says Scott Durrah, a Denver-based cannabis entrepreneur.

“I’ve been to all states, countries … and yeah, we screwed up along the way, but we still have one of the best systems in place,” says Durrah, who runs the Simply Pure dispensary in Denver with wife, Wanda James. The couple also own Jezebel’s Southern Bistro, a restaurant in the Highlands neighborhood.

Durrah and Ben Livingston, the Cannabist’s vape critic, join Cannabist editor-in-chief Ricardo Baca on The Cannabist Show to share the aspects of marijuana laws that they would change, given the chance for a do-over.

If Colorado and others were to take another crack at crafting cannabis legislation, banking would be the one item that Durrah says should be re-addressed.

“We can’t bank, because it’s so-called ‘money-laundering,'” he says, “but when we pay our taxes…”

Durrah references tax laws and codes such as 280E, which do not allow for some business-related deductions because marijuana remains a Schedule I substance.

“At least give us banking so we can operate, so we can take this billion dollars and reinvest it and actually utilize it,” Durrah says. “We’re a caring industry. We give. We give back. Just imagine if we had that extra money to give back in the community — what we could do as a community.”

Livingston notes his home state of Washington, which does not allow for personal cultivation of cannabis.

“Pot’s not legal until you can grow your own cannabis,” he says. “We cannot grow our own cannabis in Washington state. … If people are being arrested for growing plants, we are not free.”

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