Denver Considers Unconstitutional Limit on Homegrown Marijuana


Denver City Council

The Denver City Council, which on Monday thought better of trying to stop people from smoking pot on their own porches, is now considering limits on home cultivation that go beyond those imposed by Amendment 64, Colorado's marijuana legalization measure. A bill proposed by Jeanne Robb, the same councilwoman who wanted to ban marijuana consumption in outdoor areas on private property, would cap the number of cannabis plants at 12 per household, regardless of how many adults live there. Amendment 64, by contrast, allows every resident who is 21 or older to grow up to six plants, "notwithstanding any other provision of law." It says doing so "shall not be be an offense under Colorado law or the law of any locality," as long as "the growing takes place in an enclosed, locked space, is not conducted openly or publicly, and is not made available for sale." Since Amendment 64 is now part of the state constitution, it is hard to see how Robb's proposed ordinance could pass legal muster.

Leaving aside that rather significant point for the moment, Robb's justification for the 12-plant-per-dwelling limit, which parrots the talking points of the anti-pot group Smart Colorado, seems pretty weak. "The police are very worried about the homegrows and the problems they could cause," she tells The Denver Post. Specifically, she claims to be worried about "fires, pesticide use, the mold, structural damage, children who might be living in these areas, and THC on surface areas." Writing at HomeGrow.CO, a site that covers home cultivation under Amendment 64, Kris Kaiser debunks these concerns one by one. Regarding "THC on surface areas," for example, he says:

I am not sure what Smart Colorado or the Council Woman thinks happens when cannabis is grown.  THC IS NOT SPEWED OUT OF THE PLANT, contaminating surfaces in the area….I checked, [and] apparently dispensaries do NOT have a problem with THC contamination on surfaces. I figured since they have 1000's of plants, SURELY they would have THC contamination issues.  But no, they didn't seem to know what the heck I was talking about. So I explained it to them, [and they] still [have] no idea.

More to the point, any valid safety concerns would apply to growing 12 plants as well as 13 (or 18), and they can be addressed without arbitrarily denying Coloradans their constitutional rights. According to the Post, "Robb said police have stories of homes with dozens of plants, including an 80-year-old grandmother with more than 100 plants in her home." Robb's bill has nothing to do with a situation like that, since 100 plants is already 94 more than any one person is allowed to grow under Amendment 64.

Granted, homes with three or more adults, all of whom want to grow marijuana and at least two of whom plan to do so up to their personal limits, are fairly unusual. But Kaiser argues that Robb's restriction would disproportionately affect college students, families of modest means, and people caring for elderly parents who use marijuana as a medicine, all of whom are especially likely to live in households that include more than two adults.

Robb and her friends in the police department may be offended by the idea of three roommates growing a total of 18 plants and sharing the produce with their friends (one ounce at a time). Furthermore, it is in the city's financial interest to keep a lid on DIY production so as to maximize revenue from the taxes on sales at state-licensed stores. But the informal, nonprofit distribution of homegrown pot is protected by Amendment 64, and it can serve as an important restraint on politicians' urge to tax and regulate.

Update: Christian Sederberg, a Denver lawyer who worked on the Amendment 64 campaign, has this to say about Robb's proposed limit:

One could argue that it is unconstitutional, based on each individual being constitutionally able to grow/possess up to six plants (three mature). But I also think the localities have the right to impose reasonable restrictions. Unless the court found that collective growing is a "fundamental right," the city would likely succeed in court if this 12-plant limit were challenged. So in my opinion, it isn't necessarily consistent or inconsistent with A64. It is definitely a gray area.

I'm not sure "collective growing" is really the issue. If Amendment 64 protects the right of each adult to grow six plants (which it does) but the city of Denver tells some adults (those who live with two other pot growers) that they may not do so, that seems pretty inconsistent to me.

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  1. Jeanne Robb, you’re a bitch. Why don’t you stop worrying about what other people are doing, and finally get your rubber neck shortened? You look like a dinosaur.

  2. OT: British news staff may face terrorism charges over Snowden leaks.

    (Reuters) – British police are examining whether Guardian newspaper staff should be investigated for terrorism offenses over their handling of data leaked by Edward Snowden, Britain’s senior counter-terrorism officer said on Tuesday.

    The disclosure came after Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, summoned to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry, was accused by lawmakers of helping terrorists by making top secret information public and sharing it with other news organizations.

    1. Britain: just a little ahead of us on the slide into totalitarianism. Though we’re catching up fast.

  3. The prohibitionist scumbag just can’t stop trying to undercut a law she doesn’t like, can she. How unsurprising. Laws are for controlling the little people, damn it, not stopping her from controlling them!

    1. Libertarians are tyrants because libertarians would use force of law to stop people like her from controlling people! They say that they don’t believe in initiating force, yet they would use force to stop others from initiating force! That’s an initiation of force! They’re tyrants! Totalitarians! And hypocritical liars to boot!

      1. This is what Mary Stack actually believes.

        1. I think what Mary Stack actually believes depends on what the voices in her head happen to be saying at that particular time.

        2. And the guy whose name starts with T who shall not be named.

      2. Tony’s exact words.

  4. For f-cks sake, it’s either legal or it’s not. The hemming and hawwing about the particulars ever since the vote to legalize is mind-numbing

    1. “We won! It’s the law of the land!”

    2. When it’s a law they like, enforce it ruthlessly. When it’s one they don’t like, ignore or circumvent it.

      Is there anyone who actually thinks we live under the rule of law and not the rule of man?

      1. Is there anyone who actually thinks we live under the rule of law and not the rule of man?

        Sure, they’re called progessives.

        1. There are a lot of conservatives and libertarians who fall for that grand illusion as well.

          1. Conservatives? Sure, when there’s a Republican in office. Libertarians? Not so much, I think.

            1. I don’t know. Seems like there are a number of regulars on here who think rule of law is important and possible. Maybe I’m wrong.
              And when I think rule of law, I don’t mean thinking that every law we have now is good and must be obeyed, but more that law should be a mechanical system that work the same regardless of the people implementing it.

              1. Plenty of libertarians believe the rule of law is important. I just don’t think too many believe we have anything even remotely resembling that right now.

                1. OK, I see what you are saying. I’m more inclined to the more anarchisty position that rule of law is only ever an illusion.

                  1. I’m more inclined to the more anarchisty position that rule of law is only ever an illusion.

                    Ah, we were sort of talking past each other. I tend to agree.

    3. Exactly. They did not legalize it at all, they merely changed the regulations. Wake me when the possession limits on pot are the same as on fescue.

  5. Specifically, she claims to be worried about “fires, pesticide use, the mold, structural damage, children who might be living in these areas, and THC on surface areas.”

    Don’t forget *excessive oxygen* and *the kitties*!

    Good grief, Jeanne, get real.

    1. All of which can happen with any other kind of plant grown indoors and there are no restrictions on that. She clearly just wants as many hassles for growers as possible.

    2. These are such perfect examples of why the complaints are bullshit. They’re concerned about mold and structural damage? Wouldn’t those apply equally to growing any plants? So are they proposing a general ban on horticulture?

  6. OT

    Innocent man: How inmate Michael Morton lost 25 years of his life

    Christine, his wife, was attacked and killed at their home in Williamson County, Texas, just outside Austin. Michael Morton was at work at the time. Still, authorities suspected him.

    “Innocent people think that if you just tell the truth then you’ve got nothing to fear from the police,” Morton says now. “If you just stick to it that the system will work, it’ll all come to light, everything will be fine.”
    Instead, Morton was charged, ripped away from his boy, and put on trial. The prosecutor, speaking to the jury in emotional terms with tears streaming down his face, laid out a graphic, depraved sexual scenario, accusing Morton of bludgeoning his wife for refusing to have sex on his birthday.

    “There was no scientific evidence, there was no eyewitness, there was no murder weapon, there was no believable motive,” Morton says. “… I didn’t see how any rational, thinking person would say that’s enough for a guilty verdict.”

    Morton spent nearly 25 years in prison.

    A few years ago, a group of attorneys, working pro bono on Morton’s behalf, managed to bring the truth to light. Not only was Morton innocent, but the prosecutor, Ken Anderson, was accused of withholding crucial evidence.

    The former prosecutor…agreed to 10 days in jail. He served only five…

    1. Morton spent nearly 25 years in prison.

      The former prosecutor…agreed to 10 days in jail. He served only five


      1. He should be punished exactly as you or I would be if we kidnapped someone and locked them in the basement for 25 years. Or even more harshly.

        1. And had people frequently rape them.

    2. Innocent people think that if you just tell the truth then you’ve got nothing to fear from the police

      Never talk to the police.

    3. What the fuck do people think “reasonable doubt” means? Seriously. I just can’t comprehend what some juries were thinking. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have any direct physical evidence at all, there is always reasonable doubt.

      1. Yeah, while I obviously wasn’t in the courtroom, I blame the jury ALMOST as much as the prosecutor on this one.

        Emotion vs reason. (as usual)

      2. This is why I tell people I want to be on a jury. I don’t trust the 12 people to be smart. So maybe if I get in there, I can at least hang it, if not convince them fully.

        1. The juror questions are specifically designed to rule out any who are skeptical of the law, the cops, or the government.

      3. And you would be eliminated as a juror by the prosecution. I was in a jury pool a few months ago, got sat as Juror Number 6, and after additional voire dire regarding my views of gun laws, the prosecutors dismissed me. They strive, with the collusion of the judge, to rig things in favor of the State as much as possible including getting people who go by feelings and are deferential to ‘the law’ and the government. Needless to say the guy who lived at home with his mom at age 43 and was unemployed stayed on the jury.

        1. I’d like to think the Constitution is the law so I could say I am in favor of The Law and be truthful. And if I just couldn’t take it, what would happen to me and the other potential jurors if i started asking the prosecutor if he was specifically trying to eliminate me because I’ve read the Constitution? Assuming I’m already eliminated, and do they tell you in front of other people? At minimum I want to cause a stink and seed a little doubt in the other jurors minds.

        2. This is why I think jury selection should be a completely random sample, without any say from the lawyers and prosecutors at all.

        3. If you want to be selected as a juror, it really helps to keep your mouth shut during voir dire. It doesn’t guarantee it, but having strong opinions is one of the fastest ways to get struck from the panel.

  7. One nice thing ammendment 64: it pretty much causes the petty tyrant statists to completely ripp off their masks and throw them in the trash. Makes it much easier to identify the shitheels. I don’t live in Denver city limits, but if I did, guess which councilwoman wouldn’t be getting my vote when she comes up for re-election.

    1. I have a strong fear that nobody is paying attention, or at least not a critical mass of people.

      I work with a very smart young man, about to defend a PhD in Nuclear Engineering, but he is a statist. I got into it with him yesterday regarding single payer health care (Canada specifically). I asked him why he believes that a Doctor should not be able to offer his skills to whoever was willing to compensate him. His response was because we as a society decided that he doesn’t have the right to do that… Somehow *we* decided that a doctor doesn’t have the right to voluntary trade his services, I know I didn’t decide that though. This guy is pretty logical, maybe a bit utilitarian at times, but he has strong prog tendencies that I don’t understand. He’s a genius when it comes to engineering but doesn’t see the moral failings of giving a government all of this power over the individual.

      It scares me when I come across that. Hopefully he changes as he gets older. He’s 26 now.

      1. You should have asked him how he would feel if “society” decided where he should be able to offer his skills. When he sputters and offers excuses, let him know that he’s approaching sociopath if he couldn’t, on his own, reason out that maybe the doctor wouldn’t like that if he wouldn’t like that.

        People like that are repulsive, and need to be called out on it every time.

        1. I did, but he went on about health care being “too important”.

          He also stated on a few occasions that medicare and medicaid are extremely efficient when compared to private insurance in the US (wow). He doesn’t see the downside of rationed care which I think is likely because he’s never had to really deal with the system with which he advocates so ardently.

          1. Then you immediately ask how he would feel if “society” decided his profession was “too important”. Just keep throwing this shit back in this scumbag’s face, again and again and again. As Bones says below, those who would enslave others are the scum of the earth and should be treated with the boundless contempt they deserve. They are almost assuredly sociopaths.

            1. I’m going to keep this in mind. I tried not to get too hostile because it is work, but it is likely the only way the argument will make him really think about his positions.

              I know I thought about what he said for a while yesterday because I respect his work here and am confused with how he can deviate so much to his prog thought pattern.

              1. You seem to think that there is a connection between intelligence and morality. That you can reason someone into being moral.

                You can’t.

                It may be disappointing and scary, but oftentimes the most morally bankrupt are the most brilliant.

                1. Yep. People far too often make the mistake of believing that being wrong or evil means someone is stupid. It’s just not true. No one has as much of a rational basis for what they believe as they like to think. We all rest on loads of biases. Very smart people will end up in very different places depending on what biases and personality traits they start with.

          2. Healthcare is “too important” but energy isn’t?

            I don’t care how brilliant this guy appears, he’s just another sociopathic retard.

            Think about it, he’d hold a fucking gun to a doctor’s head and make him work against his will. Just because a lot of other people hold this view doesn’t mean that it’s not sick and sadistic.

        2. This. I fucking hate slavers and do everything I can to convince them that they are slavers. They hate that because until they are called out, they insist they are good people. But they are slavers and deserve to be told so. They won’t change their mind that day, not usually. But they will sometimes lose a little sleep over it, thinking about their hypocrisy. They may come around eventually, or they will ante up and eventually bury themselves to others, ruining their credibility forever. I had one actually tell me I can’t say X during an argument. Then I knew I won.

      2. Hopefully he changes as he gets older. He’s 26 now.

        It’ll probably depend a lot on whether he stays in academia after getting his PhD or goes into the private sector. If he stays in academia as a professor or post-doctoral researcher, then forget it, he’ll probably be a proggie for life.

      3. It seems like a lot of very smart scientists just don’t bother to examine their political beliefs because they have more interesting things to think about. I wish they would just not bother having an opinion, though.

      4. ” because we as a society decided that he doesn’t have the right to do that”

        Did we as a society decide that he was inherently a doctor who exists solely for the purpose of providing medical care? He could just simply say, “I’m not a doctor,” then fewer people receive medical care as a result. What do we as a society have to say about that?

  8. The pesticide use bit makes no sense at all. If one is growing indoors, there is no need for pesticides. Also, even growing outdoors, the only pesticide needed is a dilute solution of Ivory Soap.

    1. Pests can and do make it indoors. But I think it is much more of a problem for large scale growers.

      In any case, it is irrelevant. You can put pesticide on any other kind of plant you have growing indoors.

      1. You’d likely never have to do anything with pesticides at all for an indoor grow of any size, unless you get spider mites.

        And then it wouldn’t help anyway, but you might try it out of desperation, to no avail.

        Spider mites are the bane of any mj grower. Difficult to kill, they will actually jump from plants that have been sprayed into tiny cracks in the walls, floors, ceilings, and they can live there for a very long time until you move more plants in, then they just jump back on.

        If you get the spider mites, destroy all your plants, scour the walls, floors, ceilings, repaint, and begin again. It’s the only way.

  9. When people say they want government to handle something, I try to help them understand they are saying they want people like Jeanne Robb to make decisions on how they should run their lives. Most people think I’m a crank. They really can’t see the problem with martinets like this.

  10. Those dogs aren’t going to shoot themselves.

  11. Here follows an extract from “Notes on Democracy” by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during alcohol prohibition, 1919-1933?it might just go some way in explaining what motivates petty tyrants like Jeanne Robb:

    The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate, which is to say: upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.

    They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.

    1. At least back then they had the decency to pass a constitutional amendment to give the government the power to enact prohibition. Now it’s just FYTW.

  12. Exactly how is this unconstitutional? According to my copy of the constitution other than the constitutionally enumerated rights which may not be abridged the state is top dog on the rights list. Any rights and powers not specifically granted in the federal constitution to the federal or state governments or the people falls to the states, and the people of those states. The state constitution may certainly limit the growing of plants, the chewing of gum or the sexual habits of its citizens unless it prefers not to, in which case it’s the right of the citizens of that state to participate or not in such activities.

    While it may be anti-freedom and/or anti-common sense it’s certainly constitutional by my reading of the federal constitution.

    1. Dude, Amendment 64 is now part of the Colorado state constitution. This council woman is proposing a city ordinance that is in direct conflict.

      1. Duh, I somehow managed to miss that despite it being the entire point of the article. Gotta cut back on the…caffeine.

        1. …caffeine

          Yes, we all need to cut back on the…caffeine, I think.

    2. Since Amendment 64 is now part of the state constitution, it is hard to see how Robb’s proposed ordinance could pass legal muster.

      Oh, oh, I know this one!

      Because fuck you, that’s why, right?

  13. Why do I instantly want to tell someone to Fuck Off the moment I see the words “reasonable” and “restrictions” in juxtaposition?

  14. Back to slamming on the Denver City Council, whose 12-plant limit is 12 times higher than the no-plant limit YOUR city council no doubt enforces.

    If you live in Denver, yes, be concerned about this. If you live anywhere else….legalize weed first, then complain about the regulations.

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