DENVER, CO — Colorado’s governor signed six marijuana regulatory bills into law Tuesday while the state awaits a federal response to recreational marijuana legalization.
The new laws seek to regulate legalized cannabis and keep it away from children, without being so strict that marijuana sales stay in the black market.
Some highlights from Colorado’s new cannabis laws:
YOU CAN COME BUY IT, BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE IT HOME
Visitors to Colorado will have purchasing limits of a quarter-ounce of marijuana in a single transaction. The law doesn’t ban adults over 21 from possessing a full ounce, residents or not. But the purchasing limits were seen as an effort to reduce interstate trafficking and help persuade the federal government not to crack down on recreational sales.
THE POT BUSINESS ISN’T OPEN FOR BUSINESS, YET
Colorado’s marijuana industry will for the first few months be limited to people already licensed to sell or produce medical marijuana. Even once the grandfathering period expires, licensees will need to be Colorado residents for two years, and investors will face residency requirements, too. The residency requirements were added to try to prevent Colorado from becoming a production ground for criminal drug cartels.
THE CAMERAS BETTER BE ROLLING WHEN YOU GROW IT
Colorado tried and failed to establish constant video surveillance of medical marijuana, establishing a seed-to-sale tracking system to keep the industry honest. The vaunted system hasn’t worked out as expected because of a lack of money, but the agency that oversees pot says it has learned its lesson and will have the money to follow through with seed-to-sale tracking next year.
NOT EVERY TOWN WILL SELL IT
Colorado’s marijuana framework gives local and county governments broad power to ban retail pot sales if they wish, though home growing will be allowed statewide. Legalization backers say the next Colorado political battle to watch will be which communities ban pot shops, prompting the possibility that marijuana sales will be largely concentrated in big cities that currently allow retail medical marijuana shops.
MARIJUANA CLUBS AREN’T SAFE
Entrepreneurs in Colorado have been testing the new marijuana law in recent months by opening private clubs that allow communal pot smoking, but no sales, for a membership fee. The legislation tries to crack down on the spread of such cannabis clubs by stating that they’re not exempt from clean indoor air laws, unlike membership cigar clubs.
KIDS GET NEW PROTECTIONS
Colorado’s new laws aim to prevent youth marijuana use as much as possible. The laws create a new crime of sharing marijuana with someone under 21, an analogy to current delinquency laws and alcohol. The laws also mandate child-proof packaging for marijuana sales, and bans types of marketing thought to appeal to kids, such as cartoon characters in advertisements and packaging. The new 10 percent marijuana sales tax will be used in part on educational campaigns telling people under 21 to avoid the drug.
DON’T SMOKE AND DRIVE
After years of debate, Colorado now has as blood-level limit for marijuana and drivers. The law says that juries can presume drivers are too stoned to drive if their blood contains more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. Washington state adopted the same driving standard on the ballot last year, but Colorado left the question to the state Legislature.
Source: House bills 1042, 1238, 1 317, 1318 and 1325, and Senate Bill 283
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