Colorado Legislators Pile on Pot Restrictions While Some Propose Abandoning Legalization Altogether

Jacob SullumJacob SullumA bill setting out guidelines for regulation of marijuana stores in Colorado received a second vote of approval from the state House of Representatives on Saturday and needs one more before it heads to the state Senate. In addition to amendments creating an unfair and misguided new legal standard for driving under the influence of marijuana and extending a rule requiring retailers to grow most of the marijuana they sell, the latest version of H.B. 1317 requires limits on advertising that the original version merely suggested, including a ban on "mass-market campaigns that have a high likelihood of reaching minors." It is doubtful that such a far-reaching rule, suppressing communication with adult customers because it might be seen by minors, would be upheld by Colorado's courts. Such an approach is inconsistent with the way the U.S. Supreme Court has read the First Amendment, and Colorado's courts historically have read the state constitution's free-speech guarantee even more broadly.

Similarly, the bill now requires, rather than merely allowing, the Colorado Department of Revenue to "minimize the market for unlawful marijuana" by limiting the total number of retail licenses, the amount produced by each grow operation, and statewide cultivation capacity. Toward the same end, regulators are charged with creating and maintaining "a seed-to-sale tracking system that tracks retail marijuana from the immature plant stage until the marijuana is sold at a retail marijuana store." Such a system is already supposed to exist for medical marijuana, but it never quite got off the ground.

Under the vertical integration requirement, also supposedly aimed at preventing diversion, pot shops have to grow at least 70 percent of their inventory while selling no more than 30 percent of the marijuana they produce to other stores. That requirement currently applies to medical marijuana centers (MMCs), some of which lobbied to keep it. The bill extends the 70 percent rule through September 30, 2014. It also gives existing MMCs a head start in the recreational market, barring new entrants from seeking licenses for three months.

The new version of H.B. 1317 elaborates on yet another anti-diversion measure: the quarter-ounce limit for marijuana buyers from other states (as opposed to residents, who can buy up to an ounce). The bill now says pot stores may not sell more than a quarter of an ounce at a time to "a person who does not have a valid identification card showing that the person is a resident of the State of Colorado." That way of wording the rule seems to be aimed at reconciling it with Amendment 64, the ballot initiative (now part of the state constitution) that set this whole process in motion. Amendment 64 says the state "shall not require a consumer to provide a retail marijuana store with personal information other than government-issued identification to determine the consumer's age." Here the state arguably is not requiring pot buyers to provide proof of residence. A visitor could use a passport, for example, to prove he is 21 or older without revealing where he lives. But if he wants to buy more than a quarter of an ounce in one transaction, he will need an ID listing a Colorado address.

Other restrictions on marijuana retailers that have been added to the bill since it was introduced include bans on deliveries, Internet sales, on-site consumption, and the sale of "any consumable product," including tobacco, alcohol, and non-cannabis-infused foods or drinks. These rules, together with the proposals to restrict advertising, suggest that Colorado is moving closer to the discreet, buttoned-down version of legalization laid out in I-502, Washington's marijuana legalization initiative.

A companion bill making its way through the Colorado legislature, H.B. 1318, would authorize, subject to voter approval this fall, a 15 percent excise tax and a special 15 percent sales tax on marijuana. As Matthew Feeney noted on Friday, some legislators have hatched a scheme to present voters with an initiative that would repeal Amendment 64 unless the new taxes are approved. That's only fair, they argue, since Amendment 64 passed based largely on (possibly overblown) promises of additional tax revenue, which will be necessary to fund enforcement of all those nifty new regulations. "The whole purpose of it was to raise money for education and so forth," says state Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa), "so if there's no money, we shouldn't have marijuana." Others see the effort to make marijuana legalization contingent on new taxes as a blatant attempt to subvert the will of voters, who should be able to choose legal marijuana without additional taxes if that is what they want. "That's almost like saying to voters, 'Vote for this, or else,'" says Sen. Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge). "I don't think you threaten voters like that. When over 55 percent of the people vote for something, I think we have to respect that." While Crowder plots to cancel legalization, his fellow Republicans in the state House are putting their party's resistance to taxes above its aversion to cannabis, pushing to reduce the excise and sales tax rates by one-third, to 10 percent.  

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  • Libertarian||

    Maybe now the voters in Colorado will realize who's really in charge. As George Carling used to say, they call the "powerful" that for a reason.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Is the CO GOP smart enough to become the guns and ganja party, to annihilate the dems?

    I'm betting that no, they are not.

  • deified||

  • ||

    They just haven't figured out how they can squeeze the maximum amount of "revenue" from users and sellers yet.

  • AuH20||

    Ugh. Sadly marijuana had to be legalized at a time when fucking cigarettes, which even the Prohibitionists weren't dumb enough to go after, have a black market.

    Seriously, could we set up a fund for Colorado weed users just so they buy legally just long enough for their legal purchases to become a vital part of Colorado's revenue stream, and thus taxable (avoidable, and not too big) and unbannable (Do you not want that pot revenue to go to schools that teach kids that all smoking, but especially pot smoking, is bad?!)

  • ||

    I really hope Washington doesn't get as retarded as Colorado about this. We'll have to see what the State Liquor Board comes up with. It'll probably be stupid too. But at least I can drive down 99 with some weed in my pocket without worries.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Wait, since when did you start wearing pants while you drive?

  • AuH20||

    He made it out of his copious anal hair, obviously.

    Hugh, sometimes, its like you don't know Epi at all!

  • ||

    When did I say "pants pocket"? My miniskirt can have pockets!

  • Hugh Akston||

    "Good way to avoid frostbite folks, put your hands between your buttocks. That's nature's pocket."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I think they should make marijuana more illegal than it was before. What is higher than Schedule 1?

  • ||

    Like Giskard, your puny brain cannot handle the Zeroth Schedule of Restricted Substances. Don't think about it too hard lest it destroy you.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Man, I'm glad he and Daneel fucked up the Earth. Being a commie City-dweller sucked ass. Being a libertarian Spacer fucking ruled, with the exception of the Solarians, who were fucked up.

  • WomSom||

    Roll that beautiful bean footage lol.

    www.GottenAnon.tk

  • AuH20||

    Okay, is anyone else now wondering if bean is some weird 20s euphemism for pot that only a computer would know about?

  • ||

    "Dude, I just bought an entire lid of grass, dude!"

  • C. Anacreon||

    What, they don't call it that anymore?

    First MJ I ever bought was a lid of "Mexican" in 1976. A lid was an ounce. It was $15.

    For $20 we could have gone high grade and bought a lid of "red lumbo". We didn't have enough to both buy that and have enough left over for gas money home (plus a couple of meals at McD's, which would have been about $1.25 each back then).

    Of course, the pot was much less potent then, and your ounce contained a lot of stems and seed that you had to clean out of your stash (preferably in the fold-over middle of the album cover of some double-album set like Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus.)

  • deified||

    Wow. Thanks for the history lesson.

  • Brandon||

    "The whole purpose of it was to raise money for education and so forth,so if there's no money, we shouldn't have marijuana."

    The whole purpose was what now?

  • InlineSkate||

    "The whole purpose of it was to raise money for education and so forth,so if there's no money, we shouldn't have marijuana."

    Well numb nuts if you guys didn't go out of your way to make legal marijuana operations and purchasing such a god damn hassle you would see money.

  • sam the man||

    Leave it to the government to fuck up even weed legalization. It shouldn't be that hard. Just repeal the existing laws criminalizing pot. No need for additional laws.

  • AuH20||

    But then we can't make money off of it. And....and....sin taxes!

    Yeah! Because even though most government officials either drink or smoke, we still have to treat these things like we're Boston Puritans in the goddamn 1820s!

    ...

    Also, alcohol producers would throw a fucking fit if there is any way that pot is cheaper than their product. Especially in the home of Coors (which, yeah, is now a giant ass conglomerate but still)

  • crazyfingers||

    The morons are going to tax and regulate "legal" weed to death. It will be cheaper to get it on the black market. Good. Screw the liberal b.s. reason for legalization. Marijuana should be legal because people should be free.

  • SIV||

    Let this be a lesson to other state ballot initiative campaigns. The PPP poll linked the other day showed more DC residents favoring unrestricted legal marijuana for adults than the CO/WA "taxed and regulated" model. Unfortunately leftists and dopeheads have no affinity for liberty.

  • ||

    WA isn't having any such problems. It was passed by citizen initiative and we are doing just fine, thanks. God knows what the liquor board will set up for a disgtribution network but for now things are copacetic.

  • DWC||

    Sweet land of liberty...

  • ||

    Similarly, the bill now requires, rather than merely allowing, the Colorado Department of Revenue to "minimize the market for unlawful marijuana" by limiting the total number of retail licenses, the amount produced by each grow operation, and statewide cultivation capacity.

    So let me get this straight: In order to reduce illegal weed sales, Colorado is going to limit legal weed sales.

    Retard Alert! Retard Alert! Retard Alert!

  • SIV||

    Retard Alert! Retard Alert! Retard Alert!

    This warning should be affixed to all your comments.

  • ||

    No, just the ones replying to you.

    Retard Alert! Retard Alert! Retard Alert!

  • Rich||

    if he wants to buy more than a quarter of an ounce in one transaction, he will need an ID listing a Colorado address.

    I haven't read TFL.

    Would someone *kindly* spell out any limitations on frequency and any recording of purchase?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Toward the same end, regulators are charged with creating and maintaining "a seed-to-sale tracking system that tracks retail marijuana from the immature plant stage until the marijuana is sold at a retail marijuana store." Such a system is already supposed to exist for medical marijuana, but it never quite got off the ground.

    They need to check with the artificial snake makers in Los Angeles. Those guys put individual serial numbers and initial each scale.

  • Rich||

    Good grief.

    What's next, serial numbers on ammunition?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Separate ones for both bullet and casing no less.

  • ||

    Well, the good news is that no matter what stupid regulations on legal sale they come up with, in CO one can always grow their own.

    The same cannot be said in WA.

  • Sugarsail||

    All of these drug prohibition issues, gay marriage, abortion and alcohol issues are why the Europeans kicked the Puritans out of Europe in the first place, and we still wallow in the mire of their legacy.

  • gaoxiaen||

    We can't let voters run things around here. Let's just not have elections anymore.

  • Jerryskids||

    It also gives existing MMCs a head start in the recreational market, barring new entrants from seeking licenses for three months.

    So all them freedom-loving dope smokers ain't necessarily in favor of all kinds of freedom? I am disappoint.

  • SIV||

    "Why do you think they call it dope"?

  • Nicholas Sarwark||

    Similarly, the bill now requires, rather than merely allowing, the Colorado Department of Revenue to "minimize the market for unlawful marijuana" by limiting the total number of retail licenses, the amount produced by each grow operation, and statewide cultivation capacity.

    What utter horseshit. There is no market for unlawful marijuana in Colorado, because marijuana is legal here. Just like there is no market for unlawful fireworks in Wyoming.

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