A Colorado entrepreneur is pushing to make buying marijuana nearly as easy as shopping for heirloom tomatoes.

Justin Hartfield, the CEO of a Denver-based website that maps and collects reviews on marijuana dispensaries, is currently shepherding an initiative that would allow “organic cannabis farmers markets” in the city of Boulder.

Colorado legalized recreational weed in 2012, and regulators at the state level are working out the rules that brick-and-mortar recreational pot shops will have to follow when they open their doors next year. Hartfield wants local officials in Boulder to push even further, allowing the creation of markets like the ones now used to haggle over white asparagus and organic lavender.

“I got news for you: Marijuana is legal in Colorado,” Hartfield, a longtime marijuana activist, said. “It’s no longer a drug in a sense. It’s a plant. It’s a commodity. There’s no reason not to allow trade in it openly.”

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but federal authorities have mostly allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to exist in states where the drug has been legalized for that purpose. Now that Colorado and Washington have legalized the drug for recreational use, how federal authorities will respond is unclear.

Hartfield admits his idea -- first reported on by Boulder’s Daily Camera newspaper -- is likely to be “controversial,” but says it’s nothing more than a logical extension of the movement to make pot legal. His proposal envisions plots within agricultural areas in Boulder set up as secure spaces where cannabis growers would “showcase their products, introduce their customers to the growing operation, demonstrate their practices, and host community-oriented events that provide marketing opportunities.” From 26 to 99 vendors would be allowed.

boulder

Hartfield wants weed farmers markets to be legal in zoned agricultural areas in the city, shown in light green in the map above.

“It really is very similar to any other organic market,” Hartfield said. “The only difference is this plant has certain peculiarities that, say, a tomato doesn’t. Boulder has a rich history of organic markets, and Boulder is also a city in a state where cannabis is legal. It just makes sense.”

Several county and city officials interviewed by The Huffington Post weren’t so sure the plan would make sense under local regulations, but said they would be open to set the plan in motion if that happened to be the will of Boulder’s citizens. Mike Bunuelos, a spokesman for the City of Boulder, explained current regulations don’t allow anything but produce grown at an outdoor farm to be sold on agricultural land. That would make it illegal to set up ganja stalls in farm areas, since Colorado state regulations currently only allow for weed to be grown indoors.

“What they’re proposing is to sell a product in an agricultural zone, and under our current regulations that’s not allowed,” Bunuelos said. “We would have to change the current zoning legislation, and that would have to be a political process involving the City Council.”

Dale Case, director of the Boulder County Land Use Department, was more succinct: “The elected officials are the ones that would direct us to do something like this.”

Both municipal officials also noted that state regulations regarding retail sales of marijuana, which would supersede local rules in most instances, are still being hammered out.

That fact does not necessarily dissuade Hartfield, who is using the push for marijuana farmers’ markets to drive attention to one of his business ventures, a startup website called SimpleGov.com. The site, which promises people the ability to funnel all kinds of requests directly to city officials in their town, is hosting the Boulder petition.

Following a blast email to 300,000 people across the United States earlier this week, Hartfield’s plan for an outdoor kush bazaar had garnered 66 supporters on the site early Friday.

Hartfield said he’s aiming to start by getting local officials to simply comment on his plan.

In regards to regulations for marijuana sales, local officials in Colorado are “kind of punting, passing the buck on marijuana," he said.

"The [state marijuana legalization] laws are brand new, and haven’t been fully enacted yet," he said. "They’re waiting to see what it looks like, and we realize they really want to get it right. But we're pushing them to act on it."

“Right now, we’ll consider any response from the officials as a success -- good, bad, or indifferent,” Hartfield said.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • $13.7 Billion Saved On Prohibition Enforcement Costs

    The government would save an estimated $13.7 billion on prohibition enforcement costs and tax revenue by legalizing marijuana, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/economists-marijuana-legalization_n_1431840.html" target="_hplink">according to a paper endorsed by 300 economists</a>.

  • Marijuana Inmates Cost Prisons $1 Billion A Year

    Inmates incarcerated on marijuana-related charges cost U.S. prisons $1 billion annually, according to a 2007 study, <a href="http://www.alternet.org/rights/47815/" target="_hplink">AlterNet reports</a>.

  • Marijuana Prohibition Costs Taxpayers $41.8 Billion A Year

    Including lost tax revenues, a 2007 study found that enforcing the marijuana prohibition costs tax payers $41.8 billion annually, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/29/marijuana-laws-work-biz-cx_qh_1001pot.html" target="_hplink">Forbes</a> reports.

  • California Marijuana Crop Worth $14 Billion A Year

    Marijuana growers account for <a href="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1884956,00.html" target="_hplink">$14 billion a year in sales in California</a>, making it the state's most valuable cash crop, TIME reports.

  • Illegal Marijuana A $36 Billion A Year Industry

    It's estimated that <a href="http://madamenoire.com/106691/capitalizing-on-the-billion-dollar-marijuana-industry/" target="_hplink">illegal marijuana is a $36 billion industry</a> in the U.S., MadameNoire reports.

  • One-Third Of Americans Think Legalization Would Boost The Economy

    About one-third of Americans say they think <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/legalizing-pot-will-not-b_n_544526.html?" target="_hplink">legalizing marijuana would boost the economy</a>, according to a 2010 poll by Associated Press-CNBC.

  • Dispensary Ads Boost Newspapers' Revenue

    The <em>Sacramento News and Review</em> saw a big boost in ad revenue when it offered advertising space for more than 60 medical marijuana dispensaries, enabling the publication to hire three additional employees, <a href="http://www.news10.net/news/local/article/144285/2/Marijuana-ads-mean-big-money-for-weekly-newspaper" target="_hplink">according to News 10</a>.

  • Mendocino Zip Tie Program Raised $600,000

    Mendocino County, California's zip tie program aimed at regulating medical marijuana growing by charging permits for each plant raised <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/09/medical-marijuana-license-mendocino_n_1193198.html" target="_hplink">$600,000 in revenue in for the Sheriff's department</a> in 2011.

  • Oakland Raised More Than $1 Million In Marijuana Tax Revenue

    The city of Oakland, California raised $1.3 million in tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries in 2011, 3 percent of the city's total business tax revenue, according to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/cities-turn-to-a-crop-for-cash-medical-marijuana.html?_r=1" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a>.

  • Colorado Pulls In $5 Million From Pot Sales Tax

    In 2011, Colorado pulled in $5 milllion in sales taxes from medical marijuana businesses, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/cities-turn-to-a-crop-for-cash-medical-marijuana.html?_r=1" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a> reports.

  • Legal Marijuana Could Be $100 Billion Industry

    Economist Stephen Easton estimated in 2010 that <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2010/03/legalize_mariju.html" target="_hplink">legal marijuana could be a $45 to $100 billion industry</a>, <em>Bloomberg Businessweek</em> reports.

  • Each weGrow Center Creates 75 Jobs

    When hydroponic marijuana growing supply chain weGrow opens a new store it <a href="http://aznow.biz/small-biz/wegrow-phoenix-opens-cultivates-opportunities-arizona)" target="_hplink">creates an estimated 75 jobs</a> indirectly, according to AZBusiness Magazine.

  • Majority Of States Support Taxing Marijuana

    More than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/legalizing-pot-will-not-b_n_544526.html?" target="_hplink">60 percent of states agree with taxing marijuana</a>, according to a poll by Associated Press-CNBC.

  • Marijuana Affects Workplace Motivation

    A Norwegian study 25 years in the making came to the shocking conclusion that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/marijuana-use-has-adverse-affect-workplace-motivation_n_1300278.html?" target="_hplink">frequent marijuana use lowers employees' motivation at work</a>.

  • More Than 1,000 Dispensaries In California

    There could be more than 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in California, <a href="http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/how_does_your_pot_grow/8070/" target="_hplink"><em>Pasadena Weekly</em></a> reported in 2009.

  • Denver Counts More Dispensaries Than Starbucks

    As of July 2011, the city of Denver <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/medical-marijuana-denver-starbucks_n_891796.html" target="_hplink">counted more medical marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks franchises</a>.