Cops Demand (and Get) Two Bad Amendments to Colorado's Pot Shop Bill


Jacob Sullum

Today the Colorado House of Representatives is holding its first hearing on a bill establishing guidelines for regulation of the state-licensed pot shops that are supposed to start opening early next year, and already the legislation has been changed for the worse in response to complaints from cops. KDVR, the Fox station in Denver, reports that the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and the County Sheriffs of Colorado "were so upset over the initial draft of House Bill 1317 that the groups were threatening to write a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to intervene." Such a move would be an outrageous betrayal by officials who have a duty to enforce Colorado law, which now includes Amendment 64, the marijuana legalization measure that voters approved last November. Yet they were rewarded for threatening what ought to be a firing offense.  

KDVR says the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver), agreed to an amendment that would mandate vertical integration for at least a year, retaining a rule that requires medical marijuana centers (MMCs) to grow at least 70 percent of what they sell. By endorsing this puzzling policy, the cops are siding with the MMCs that claim it helps prevent diversion. Other MMCs favor a more flexible approach, arguing that the 70 percent rule benefits large urban operations at the expense of smaller competitors. The initial version of Pabon's bill, contrary to a recommendation from the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force (which he chaired), allowed but did not require vertical integration, leaving licensees free to specialize in growing or retailing. As Pabon points out, vertical integration and diversion are two distinct issues, which presumably is why the government does not see a need to make bars brew the beer they serve or force pharmacies to manufacture the drugs they sell. "We want to have seed-to-sale tracking," Pabon told Denver's ABC affiliate, "and if we can keep track of that, we think the public safety will be protected."

Pabon also agreed to clarify that residents of other states will not be allowed to invest in Colorado's recreational marijuana market. The original bill limited ownership of pot shops to people who have lived in the state at least two years but did not address financial backing by investors who do not take an ownership stake. "We absolutely will not have out-of-state investors in this industry, and the bill will be amended to address that," Pabon said. "It's vague in how it was written, but we will make it crystal clear to anyone who wants to invest in this business that they are not welcome."

The legislature does not have long to complete work on the bill. The current session ends on May 8.

[Thanks to CK for the tip.]

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  1. The voters have spoken, now it’s time for the coppers to have their say!

  2. Fuck these people.

    1. I wonder if progs are gunna bitch about government regulation now that they will see how bad its gunna fuck up their buzz

  3. I was fairly certain our resident officer assured us that cops would back the local community against the feds, not call in the feds to rat out the local community.

  4. “We want to have seed-to-sale tracking,” Pabon told Denver’s ABC affiliate, “and if we can keep track of that, we think the public safety will be protected.”

    I can’t think of a scenario that would make me safer than the cops being able to track pot from “seed-to-sale.”

    And can you believe that he he the obvious “seed-to-weed?” Fucking philistine.

    1. What I’m waiting for is an answer to why they would need to track it at all. Other than the retail sale transaction to collect tax, they shouldn’t give a damn.

  5. They’re doing everything possible to destroy a new economy before its even had the chance to get started. Why the fuck should they care if a Floridian (for example) invests in weed shops? The level of control they are trying to exert on the process will ensure that the black market will remain alive and thriving.

  6. I’d call people who smoke pot “potheads” but I’m afraid someone might come along and cry about it and call me a hypocrite.

    1. Hypocrite 😛

  7. They just want to regulate it like they regulate alcohol.

  8. More police state libertarianism.

  9. This reminds me of the “smart-gun” mandates that they used to periodically try to legislate in New Jersey. For those who don’t know, these proposed laws would require guns whose triggers would only be function in the hands of the licensed owner.

    One problem: the technology doesn’t exist.

  10. I’m relieved they are clamping down on out-of-state investors, because if there’s one thing that most states are having trouble with, it’s too much private capital investment.

    1. the audacity of entrepreneurship

    2. LOL my thoughts exactly.

      Oh, it says here you want to invest millions of dollars in our economy and stimulate job growth by helping us build a new industry. Sorry, we’re currently looking for ways to curb both the new industry and keep our economy in the red.

  11. Shocking indeed. How many times have you heard even pot smokers say, “make it legal and tax the HELL out of it.” My response was always, “WHY tax the hell out of it??”

    1. Cuz they have all these fallacies and conspiracy theories bouncing around their empty minds, I’ve heard some say some shit along the lines of legalize it and save the economy through taxes. Like as if it’s enough.

    2. Legalise the shit out of it. And tax it reasonably.

      1. reasonably to me means sales tax.

        1. Not that sales tax is particularly “reasonable” in and of itself… 🙂

  12. So the police and government are doing their very best to disregard the will of the people? I guess when the conversation doesn’t go your way, just do 90% of what you want anyway.

  13. Who cares one way or the other?

  14. What a perfect opportunity to say, Yo! Fuck tha police!

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