This may be the golden age of the legal cannabis market in Colorado. Compared to other states, it’s relatively easy to stay legal without being regulated or taxed at all. While medical marijuana patients are allotted a whopping 99 plants (compare that to six in California), recreational users, who only get 6 plants, can combine forces into giant untaxed co-op warehouses. So you can stay in the law without even telling anyone what you’re doing, much less pay taxes, a freedom enjoyed in virtually no other markets.
But, sadly, paradises get lost. The Adam and Eve pot growers of Colorado’s Garden of Eden have found their apple, and it’s our esteemed President Elect Donald J. Trump. Colorado’s lawmakers are planning some sweeping changes to the regulation of homegrown marijuana in the state, a move meant to ward off interference from an incoming White House administration that might not be (scratch that, almost definitely will not be) as laissez-faire about cannabis regulation as Obama and co. have been.
“We do need to clean up this system and make sure we’re beyond reproach for how well we’re regulating marijuana,” Andrew Freedman, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s marijuana coordinator, said in a recent Associated Press article.
The fear is (and the reality too) that many of these unregulated growers are putting their weed into the black market, both in Colorado and out of state. Freedman mentioned six big criminal raids in the past two years which he says indicate how illegal cannabis dealers are exploiting the state’s lax grow laws. The most recent case drew in federal agents to raid a dozen locations in southeast Colorado, resulting in the seizure of over 22,000 pounds of cannabis, with evidence pointing to the marijuana being meant for out-of-state distribution.
“We’re hearing from federal officials, ‘Hey listen, this is a concern,’” Freedman said.
Colorado’s neighbors have not been quiet about their concern that legal Rocky Mountain pot is being trafficked and turned into illegal contraband in other states. Oklahoma and Nebraska both sued Colorado for an alleged influx of Colorado weed after the latter state went full legal, though the Supreme Court tossed the suit out.
Governor Hickenlooper’s plan for home grows is a vast restriction on plant counts, shrinking the number of plants allowed in a private home down to 12. This comes on top of another restriction which has already been approved to be implemented starting next month, a law which would require caregivers to register with the state.
Some cannabis advocates have said that there’s no sense in piling law on law without studying their effects one at a time. “We continue to restrict and restrict and not see how anything is working,” said Teri Robnett, head of the Cannabis Patients Alliance.
Photo via Flickr user laurascudder