Yesterday the Colorado General Assembly gave final approval to legislation aimed at implementing Amendment 64, the marijuana legalization initiative enacted by that state's voters last November. H.B. 1317 establishes a framework for regulating the state-licensed pot stores that are supposed to start opening next year, while H.B. 1318 imposes a 15 percent excise tax and a 10 percent special sales tax on marijuana. The Colorado Department of Revenue now has until July 1 to write detailed regulations, while the new taxes must be approved by voters this fall before they can take effect.
The final version of H.B. 1317 includes a ban on the distribution of marijuana by collectives organized as nonprofit corporations, a provision aimed at operations like MJ Proper, a 501(c)(3) organization that delivers marijuana buds and marijuana-infused beer to its members. Under Amendment 64, people would still be free to grow up to six plants and transfer up to an ounce at a time "without remuneration." On its face, the new provision would not stop home growers from pooling their resources and their six-plant quotas; they just could not distribute marijuana through "a sole proprietorship, corporation, or other business enterprise" without obtaining a state license.
Other major provisions of H.B. 1317 that I have noted before include:
- Marijuana stores must obtain local as well as state approval.
- Owners of marijuana stores must be Colorado residents.
- Current medical marijuana centers get a three-month head start in the licensing process.
- Marijuana stores must grow at least 70 percent of what they sell until October 1, 2014.
- Marijuana stores may not engage in "mass-market campaigns that have a high likelihood of reaching minors."
- Marijuana-oriented magazines must be kept behind the counter in stores that are open to people younger than 21.
- Marijuana products must be sold in tamper-resistant packages listing THC content.
- Pot stores may not sell snacks, drinks, alcohol, or tobacco.
- On-site consumption of marijuana will not be permitted.
- Visitors from other states may buy no more than a quarter of an ounce at a time.
This week the Colorado legislature also approved a separate bill, H.B. 1325, that allows convictions for driving under the infuence of a drug (DUID) based on nothing more than a THC blood level of five nanograms per milliliter, a standard that exposes many regular smokers to legal hazards even when they are not impaired.