Colorado has been, since the beginning of the year, the center of all things reform, recreational and cannabis in the U.S.
The home of the first real recreational industry in the country this year, the state has continued to lead the world on implementing reform and regulations around the production and sales of marijuana to medical users and those over 21.
Except, it seems, when tourists want to take a little piece of the green home with them.
As a result, a plan by a local entrepreneur to sell (non hemp made) souvenirs celebrating Colorado’s victory, has run into continual snags.
One might think that pictures of the cannabis leaf and slogans celebrating America’s, if not the state’s new freedom as depicted on flip flops and t-shirts, in particular, would easily pass muster at Denver International Airport. In fact, conversations about initial sales were met apparently earlier this year with enthusiasm by airport management at DIA when initially pitched on the plan.
And then someone got cold feet.
Federal law prohibits the cross-state transfer of marijuana products. And all airports in the United States are bound by federal guidelines. In Colorado, in particular, at the end of 2013, the airport issued new rules specifically mentioning the oncoming green rush. Marijuana may not be transported, possessed, used or (most certainly) grown on airport property.
That said, nobody thought about including language about souvenirs and the battle has raged all year as a result. For the moment, officials at the airport are still “debating” whether to add specific regulations around pot themed merchandise.
To foreign readers, while this may sound like one of the more ridiculous contretemps to arise in a year with far more important themes afoot, it is precisely battles like this that tend, overall, to slow down the juggernaut of reform on a meta level. Consumer choice in fact, is the crux that drives change both on the medical and recreational front. Free speech issues also dictate that even if a substance is illegal, pictures, information and certainly souvenirs, fall into a different rubric. Or should.
For now, managers of gifts and corporate merchandise approvals everywhere are facing similar push backs in the face of a reform movement that has tended, eventually to sweep such ridiculous proposals aside in the wake of history.
For now however, the ban still stands at DIA. Note to travellers through Denver if not the rest of America’s airports. Don’t leave home without first stocking up on marijuana themed souvenirs and merchandise. You won’t be able to buy them at the airport.
By Marguerite Arnold