Cannabis Victory - Colorado becomes the first place on Earth to fully regulate recreational ganja use


Colorado becomes first to fully regulate recreational ganja use

Troy Hooper | Wed., May 29, 2013 @ 9:14 am

DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a half dozen bills into law Tuesday that regulate how marijuana can be grown and sold in Colorado while also attempting to shield children from it and keep stoned drivers off of the road.

The legislation is in response to Amendment 64 — a law Coloradans approved in a statewide vote in November that legalizes the use and limited possession of recreational marijuana for adults.

Colorado is now the first place on Earth to fully regulate the recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and over. The smokeable plant, however, remains illegal under federal law, which puts it on par with heroin — a classification marijuana advocates, and many scientists, find laughable.

Ending the marijuana prohibition is expected to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and take profits out of the black market. "Certainly, this industry will create jobs,” Hickenlooper said at the bills' signing. “Whether it’s good for the brand of our state is still up in the air. But the voters passed Amendment 64 by a clear majority. That’s why we’re going to implement it as effectively as we possibly can.”

One of the laws the governor signed lays the framework for an excise tax — essentially a wholesale tax — that can be as much as 15 percent. The first $40 million in revenue from the excise tax will annually go to the Building Excellent Schools Today program. The law also lays the framework for a sales tax that will start at 10 percent, but is capped at 15 percent. Colorado voters, however, still must approve the taxes.

In an effort to curb interstate marijuana trafficking, one of Colorado's new laws limits out-of-state residents from buying more than a quarter-ounce in a single sale, though they can possess an ounce.

Until September 2014, the pot trade will be limited to businesses already up and running that now sell medicinal marijuana. Sellers must also be Colorado residents for at least two years and pass a background check — rules designed to prevent the state from attracting drug cartels and other criminal elements.

If they so choose, communities can ban retail pot sales, similar to how some of them currently outlaw medicinal marijuana dispensaries. Marijuana is not allowed on school grounds, child care centers or in community residential homes and the new laws attempt to define what it means to be using marijuana “openly” and “publicly,” and specify how it may be stored. The new legislation also attempts to curtail communal smoking at marijuana clubs by not exempting them from indoor air laws like they do cigar clubs.

Although there is already a law on the books targeting drug-using drivers, a new one will go into effect that says motorists are too stoned to drive if their blood contains more than 5 nanograms of THC from marijuana. The law is controversial as tests have been all over the map with some showing some regular smokers might have enough THC in their bloodstream even if they hadn't inhaled the drug for 24 hours.

There is a deadline of July 1 for the Colorado Department of Revenue to implement the legislation Hickenlooper signed and by October it must begin accepting applications for marijuana stores.

Federal officials have remained mum on Amendment 64 — as well as a similar law passed in Washington state — but Hickenlooper said that he expects the U.S. Department of Justice to weigh in soon.

U.S. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced a bill in February that would exempt states like Colorado from federal marijuana laws. The bill has been assigned to committee.


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