Governor, opening a brewery is not the same as opening a marijuana business

Beer,_booze,_cigarettes,_and_Big_Pharma (1)In a recent article in the Aspen Times, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper compared his experience with regulations when he opened up the Wynkoop 26 years ago to the experience of those trying to make it in the emerging cannabis industry today.

“The governor explained that there was a lot of tape when he opened the Wynkoop Brewing Co. in Denver. The state regulated ‘like nobody’s business,’ he said, adding that if a gallon of beer were spilled, it had to be recorded. That should be the approach with recreational marijuana, he said.”

I’m sorry, Governot, back in 1988, you did not face the same level of scrutiny the cannabis industry does now. You weren’t required to install elaborate security systems, invest in expensive software, develop special child-resistant packaging and pay enormous license fees. You were able to take standard deductions on your tax returns and get a bank account in order to pay those taxes. Your employees didn’t have to go through elaborate licensing, and people with alcohol infractions weren’t barred by the state from employment at your establishment. And you didn’t have the risk of the feds breathing down your neck every day.  The barriers to entry into the brewing business were nothing like cannabis businesses face today.

When you were opening the Wynkoop, people didn’t refer to home-brewed beer as “contraband.” There wasn’t some grand attempt to shut down all home-brewing in order to push people into your establishment simply because it was regulated. SWAT teams weren’t knocking down doors, taking away children and throwing innocent home-brewers in jail.

Back then, as it still is today, one could actually walk into your brewery and consume on-site, in public view. I know. I did it. And, as I remember, your establishment really pushed pitchers over glasses of your fine draft beverages.

And while we’re on the subject of the Wynkoop, and the revitalization of LoDo that came after, when are you, Governor Hickenlooper, going to own your responsibility in the drunken debauchery that goes on downtown every weekend night, right outside the doors of the Wynkoop? You want to look at something that’s a real public hazard? Look no further than your own handiwork.

I’m sorry to say, Governor, but your insight is lacking. Talk about “regulating the daylights out of it” and comparing that to your experience as a brewer, your concern about what cannabis will do to the children while completely ignoring the detrimental effects your drug of choice has on children, and your claims that this is all about public safety are disingenuous at best and hypocritical pandering at worst.

I’m not opposed to alcohol per se, and I believe people can use it responsibly, but let’s get real here. Had they regulated your brewery with the same intensity as the cannabis industry, regulated alcohol like marijuana, I would venture to say that we very well may not have the Wynkoop Brewing Co. or  LoDo now.

Reasonable regulation is one thing. Over-regulation is quite another.

Categories: Advocacy, Alcohol, Business & Industry, Colorado, Ganjapreneurs, Policy & Politics

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