The bill would allow retail sales in January 2022.
“Let’s be smart about it, let’s start small,” Zabawa told the committee. “You can always change it two years later to a higher potency.”
Zabawa also said he plans to launch a campaign to repeal legalization in the 2022 election.
Hopkins told the committee his bill intends a more restrictive approach, rather than a largely hands-off system that was initially granted to the medical industry before lawmakers tightened down the industry to a near-repeal in 2011. The medical industry was eventually resurrected by ballot initiative again in 2016 and has since seen additional regulation by lawmakers in each Legislative session.
“There will be a time when anybody can come in here and apply for licensure,” Hopkins told the committee. “If we do not prepare for that I guarantee we will regret it.”
This, too, stirred some concern among providers who testified against the proposal. In the medical program’s current structure, providers must enter the market in one of the lower tiers, classified by square-footage of growing space, before they can incrementally grow into larger tiers as a measure to prevent huge companies from entering the market. Hopkins’ bill allows businesses to come into the market at any tier.
Hopkins told the committee — and for those who were in the room, the providers — that the recreational marijuana program may bring uncomfortable changes for medical providers who choose to enter the recreational market. He also told committee members he was open to any conversation about amendments to the bill following questions about THC limits and ownership requirements.