Denver City Council Monday night passed a historic bill that sets the rules and regulations for the retail marijuana industry in the state’s largest city. Most other big municipalities around Colorado have taken a time-out from setting their own regulations with many opting out to see how Denver’s system will work. Denver also was the first to take on medical marijuana regulations.
“The whole world is watching, not just the country,” said Councilman Charlie Brown, who led the council committee on the issue. “There will be some changes. It is a work in progress. We did what we could, but this is a huge unknown.”
Brown said he wants to hold another meeting with Denver’s police chief, the manager of parks and recreation and some municipal judges to talk about how to enforce the laws against public marijuana consumption.
Several council members were upset after a free. . . . . READ MORE
In four months, adults in Colorado will be able to walk into a store, plunk down cash and leave with a drug that used to land people in prison. No one, though, is sure what the future holds. Will the new industry damage the state’s reputation, grow the drug culture, spread marijuana into neighboring states, intoxicate young people and spur more crime? Or will it bring an unrecognizable change, produce needed tax revenue, drive a stake in marijuana’s black market and extinguish unnecessary prosecutions?
“It’s like being sucked into a black hole. What is going to be on the other side? No one knows,” said Ry Prichard, part-owner of a hash oil company, TC Labs.
During the first week of January, when the first stores are expected to open in Denver, the world’s media will probably descend on Colorado to document the occasion.
Lines that form in the state for everything from new doughnut shops to ski sales are expected to wrap around businesses as customers queue up for the first buds.
Denver police have written more tickets for public marijuana use so far this year than in all of 2012, but the crime is rarely punished, according to new statistics from the city. Though Colorado voters in November legalized marijuana use by adults, consuming marijuana in public remains illegal, under both state law and Denver municipal ordinance. It brings a $100 fine under the state law.
According to figures provided by the Denver Department of Safety, police in the city wrote just 20 tickets for public marijuana consumption during the first half of 2013. Fifteen of those tickets came in May and June. Officers wrote only eight tickets in all of 2012, all but one of those pre-legalization.
“Nothing has changed for us policy-wise,” Denver police spokesman John White said. “If individuals are observed consuming marijuana in public, they will be cited.”
It’s difficult to determine whether public pot use has actually increased. There have been no scientific studies about public marijuana use in Denver, either pre- or post-legalization.
But people concerned about the impacts of mariju. . . . . READ MORE
Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher disagrees with Mayor Michael Hancock’s recreational marijuana tax target, arguing the city should seek a starting tax rate of 3.5 percent instead of the mayor’s suggested 5 percent tax rate.
Gallagher warned Denver City Council members in a letter sent to Councilman Charlie Brown Monday, that the city’s 5 percent tax rate plan risks sending users back to the “dark shadows of the black market.”
“He wants the city to be very careful about not putting too much of a tax on it, because you (could) then defeat the purpose of what Amendment 64 was meant to do, which is not buying on the black market,” said Denis Berckefeldt, spokesman for the auditor.
The city expects it will have to spend about $9.4 million on education, enforcement and regulation of the pot industry, for which the tax would compensate.
The council will determine a starting tax rate and ceiling at its meeting Monday. The city will then pose those rates to voters in November. If approved, the council can raise the recreational marijuana tax rate to the determined ca. . . . . READ MORE