Colorado’s Amendment 64 Task Force finished its work as February came to a close. After months of work and several public meetings, the task force has done a remarkable job tackling the wide array of issues that may come with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.
While I cannot say that I’m perfectly happy with all of the recommendations, I have to give credit to this group for getting the job done despite solid deadlines and wide differences of opinion between task force members.
Let’s have a look at some of the regulations the Amendment 64 Task Force recommended to state legislators.
- Create an excise tax of 15 percent paid by marijuana stores at wholesale level
- Create a special marijuana sales tax paid by consumers
- Allow employers to fire employees for off-the-job marijuana use
- Allow marijuana sales to out-of-state residents visiting Colorado
- Restrict where and how marijuana stores can advertise
- Require marijuana to be sold in child-proof packaging
- Clarify that marijuana given away in exchange for a donation is illegal
- Include marijuana in smoking ban at bar and restaurants, effectively barring cannabis clubs
- Require marijuana grown at home to be in a room with walls and a ceiling. No outdoor marijuana growing.
- Require state and local approval for marijuana stores
- Create a seed-to-sale regulatory system for recreational marijuana businesses similar to medical-marijuana dispensaries.
- Require marijuana products to have labels of potency
While some think that the high taxes of marijuana will leave an opening for black market sales, I expect prices to remain low enough to avoid this. That all depends on how high the additional sales tax will be, which will be in addition to ordinary sales tax. The task force used a 25% extra tax as an example, which could be high enough to drive some sales back underground. I hope that state legislators will adopt a more reasonable sales tax rate for marijuana, but we will have to wait and see.
Unfortunately, working people could still be fired for their off-the-job use of marijuana. This certainly is unfair, but so is asking national or international companies to disregard their rules for a drug-free workplace because of our state laws. Hopefully this is something we will see fade away as people here become more comfortable with the reality of marijuana legalization, as more states vote to legalize, and especially once marijuana is reclassified from a Schedule I drug.
Allowing non-residents to purchase marijuana in Colorado will help curb illegal sales, and further limiting the amount non-residents can purchase at a time will help prevent Colorado marijuana from leaving the state. Allowing ‘canna-tourism’ will also bring a great deal of revenue to Colorado businesses and government, in addition to bringing great events to town (such as the High Times Cannabis Cup) for us red-eyed residents.
Restrictions in advertising seem logical, so long as they are no more limiting than they are for alcohol.
Child-proofing marijuana packaging is a no-brainer, and something that I’m personally surprised was not required for medical marijuana sales. I know I wouldn’t want my young son, nieces or nephews being able to get into any of my marijuana or edibles.
Clarifying that ‘marijuana-for-donations’ practices count as sales and are therefore illegal is another no-brainer. Personally, if I see that a $25 donation will get me a ‘free’ eighth and a $50 donation will get me a ‘free’ quarter, I see it as a sale, not a gift exchange.
I am pretty disappointed that marijuana would be banned from bars, restaurants, etc. as part of the smoking ban, but it makes sense. I just hope it can’t actually ban marijuana clubs. We do have hookah bars here in Denver, after all.
While I would love to be able to grow gigantic plants in the full sun of my yard, I really don’t want a bunch of teenagers chopping those plants down two weeks before harvest. So I’m not too bitter about the ‘No Outdoor Growing’ rule. Greenhouses are still a perfectly legal option if one has the cash to build one.
Requiring approval for marijuana stores and tracking plants from seed to sale are both very similar rules to what we’ve seen here with our medical marijuana industry, and should not hinder access to marijuana.
Requiring potency labeling could be a pricey rule if each plant must be tested for cannabinoid levels. Edible products should of course be labeled for potency as it can vary much more than levels between plants.
And of course, I saved the worst for last: The recommended DUI limits. The system set in Washington (which is quickly gaining ground here in Colorado as well) clearly does not accurately detect impairment. We need more science to be done in this area, and fast! In the meantime, let’s all drive our best and try to prove that if you’re too stoned to drive well, you’re also too stoned to want to drive at all.
Now that we’re done looking through this list of some of the recommendations put forth by the Amendment 64 Task Force, I’d like to end with this broadcast from 7News from the last night of the task force’s work.
Update: Read the Amendment 64 Task Force Full Report [165 page pdf]