Beginning January 1, 2014 Colorado (Amendment 64) and Washington (Initiative 502) will be the first states of the United States to legalize Marijuana for recreational uses.
Colorado Need To Know
1. Adults 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and purchase it at retail stores. It is illegal to purchase for and/or consume marijuana with minors.
2. Stores are likely to only accept cash, and a valid ID is required to verify age eligibility. Residents can purchase up to an ounce at a time, and non-residents can purchase up to a quarter-ounce at a time.
3. The law forbids resale of any products without an official business license. To become the owner of a dispensary, more information can be found at The Weed Business|DISPENSARY page.
4. Consumption of marijuana must still be done in private locations, and driving while consuming marijuana or having recently consumed marijuana is punishable by laws governing machine operation during intoxication.
5. All purchased marijuana must be consumed in the state of Colorado, as all neighboring states are still operating in accordance with federal law and consider the recreational use of marijuana to be illegal. 25 grams (less than an ounce) draws four years of prison in Kansas.
6. Some stores will be selling both medical and retail marijuana products, but most medical marijuana stores have not yet converted to retail or “recreational” marijuana stores. Those stores will only be able to sell to qualified Colorado Medical Marijuana Patients and cannot sell marijuana to the general adult public. The fee to apply for a Colorado Medical Marijuana License has been reduced to $15
7. Public consumption or display in Denver carries a civil fine of up to $999. Do not consume in federal buildings, in federal parks, or on federal land.
Washington Need To Know
1. The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) will write the rules, or implementation details, of the new system.
2. I-502 establishes three separate tiers: marijuana producer, marijuana processor, and marijuana retailer, but the qualifications and requirements have not yet been defined by the WSLCB. I-502 establishes a license application fee at $250 and a $1,000 renewal fee for each of the three licenses; marijuana producer, marijuana processor and marijuana retailer. A licensee may hold both a producer and a processor license simultaneously. The initiative does not allow a producer to also be a retailer or a processor to also be a retailer.
3. Marijuana remains illegal for those under age 21 and must be purchased in a state-licensed retail store. Home grown marijuana for recreational use, as well as sale, is illegal. Recreational use marijuana must be purchased from a state-licensed retailer. You cannot set up a store within 1000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter. The initiative is clear that retail outlets may only sell marijuana, marijuana infused products and marijuana paraphernalia.
4. On-premise consumption is not allowed under Initiative 502. Retailers are limited to one 1,600 square inch sign bearing their business/trade name. They cannot put products on display to the general public through window fronts. No licensee can advertise marijuana/infused product in any form or through any medium whatsoever within 1,000 ft. of school grounds, playgrounds, child care, public parks, libraries, or game arcades that allows minors to enter. Also, no advertising on public transit vehicles/shelters or on any publicly owned or operated property.
5. Non-Resident consumption is not addressed in I-502 and is something to be decided through the WSLCB rule-making process. I-502 is clear that marijuana products are to be consumed in Washington. I-502 decriminalizes marijuana possession and use in Washington State for those age 21 and older and who possess any combination of: one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana in solid form or 72 ounces in liquid form. The Seattle Police Department wrote an FAQ document that addresses how its officers will be handling marijuana possession going forward. Each jurisdiction may be handling it differently so it’s important to check with local law enforcement on how to proceed.
6. A price estimate of a $3 per gram producer price, a $6 per gram processor price and a pre-tax $12 per gram average retail purchase price.
7. Washington’s marijuana system is at least several months behind Colorado, meaning that fully stocked retail shelves probably will not be a reality at the consumer level until perhaps June.
While Colorado incorporates the existing medical marijuana system, Washington is starting from scratch, with all of the production and sale of recreational marijuana linked to the new system of licenses, which will not be issued until late February or early March.
There is still a Medical Marijuana Program in Each State
Laws governing the medicinal use of Marijuana are different from those governing recreational use.
Can Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana Coexist?
Mike Riggs, The Atlantic Cities
Yesterday afternoon, the Washington State Liquor Control Board released recommendations for what to do with the state’s medical marijuana system now that recreational marijuana is legal. They boil down to “mostly scrapping” the state’s medical marijuana law, according to The Stranger. Advocates—ranging from retailers to patients—aren’t happy.
Specifically, the WSLCB recommends that medical marijuana patients no longer be allowed to grow marijuana at home, that all medical marijuana dispensaries comply with retail regulations in I-502 (the ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in Washington), and that patients register with the state. The board also recommends doing away with the petition process that adds new illnesses to the list of ones treatable by medical marijuana and reducing the amount of marijuana patients can legally possess by 88 percent (from 24 ounces, to 3).
The board basically wants medical marijuana patients to get their pot the way recreational users get theirs. The biggest distinction between the two types of consumers (though it will probably not be the only one) is that medical marijuana patients would be allowed to use tax exemptions to make up for the fact that recreational pot will be taxed, and thus far more expensive than medical pot, which isn’t. But that’s not the only difference, as the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal notes: If medical marijuana were subject to the same rules as recreational licenses, medical dispensaries that have been in business since 2011 would suddenly have to comply with the new regulations. Those rules are significantly more stringent than those for the medical industry. As signed into law, the state’s medical marijuana legislation didn’t have clear rules for legally buying or selling the product, let alone sanitation and other processing requirements, Holcomb said.
When medical marijuana was passed in Washington in 2011, then-Gov. Chris Gregoire used a line-item veto to eliminate most of the language that would have set up a formal system for buying and selling cannabis. As a result, the dispensaries that have emerged in Washington state since then have been largely unregulated. They figured out different ways to pay state taxes and to operate within the state’s ambiguous law. While the WSLCB’s recommendations are just that, Seattle’s city council recently passed legislation requiring medical marijuana dispensaries to get a medical marijuana dispensary license, which doesn’t actually exist. The bill’s author says it’s a “a little nudge to the state to do something.”
Arguably, the state has to act. The Justice Department’s offer to wait and see what happens with legal pot in Colorado and Washington is contingent on both states aggressively regulating their new industries. There’s clearly a sense in Washington that recreational marijuana can’t be effectively regulated if medicinal marijuana is not (Colorado’s medical marijuana market is a different story). Whether the WSLCB’s idea is the best one is debatable. The need for a regulatory scheme that will placate the feds is not.
Where to Purchase Marijuana for Recreational Use
The most likely candidates are stores already in operation to provide medical marijuana to patients, but many have yet to make a transition and remain only medical providers. Washington State has not established laws for its retailers, but it is expected that once licenses are issued the medicinal distributors will be separate from the retailers.
Only a handful of stores, however, are expected to open on January 1, and Denver will be home to many of them, according to the Denver Post and the weekly Denver Westword. In fact, there are concerns that supplies will be sold out on the first day, with so few stores having passed the lengthy licensing process so far. About 160 retailers are still seeking licenses statewide.
Users can also share an ounce of cannabis with a friend as long as no money is exchanged. “This is our dream,” said Kirstin Knouse, 24, who flew here from Chicago with her husband, Tristan, to take their first-ever marijuana vacation. She said that she suffered from seizures and fibromyalgia, and her husband from post-traumatic stress, but that the couple had not been able to get medical marijuana at home. “We’re thinking about moving here because of it,” she said.
NORML Colorado’s list of Retailers
Alma: HCH2 LLC
Black Hawk: Alternative Medical Supplies
Breckenridge: Alpenglow Botanical, Breckenridge Cannabis Club, Organix
Central City: Annie’s Emporium, Green Grass, LLC
Denver: 3-D Cannabis Center, Altitude Organic Medicine, Citi-Med, Dank Colorado, Evergreen Apothecary, Kindman, LoDo Wellness Center, Medicine Man Denver, The Green Solution, The Healing House, The Shelter: A Strainwise Dispensary
Edgewater: Bud Med Health Center, Northern Lights Naturals
Empire: Serene Wellness, Garden City, Cloud 9 Caregivers
Frisco: Bioenergetic Healing Center
Idaho Springs: The Kine Mine, Northglenn, BotanaCare, The Green Solution
Pueblo: Marisol Therapeutics, LLC, The Greener Side Caregiving & Wellness, LLC
Silverthorne: High Country Healing
Telluride: Alpine Wellness, Telluride Bud Company, Telluride Green Room
Colorado issues first licenses for recreational marijuana businesses
John Ingold, The Denver Post
Colorado on Monday became the first state in the country to issue special licenses for recreational-marijuana businesses. After weeks of scrutiny of applications, officials at the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division slipped 348 approved licenses into the mail and sent them out to stores, product-makers and cultivation facilities. Those businesses could begin producing and selling marijuana to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1, assuming the businesses also have the approval of their local governments. The number includes 136 marijuana shops, most of which are in Denver. But stores with approved state licenses also pop up in places from Telluride to Alma to Garden City.
Marijuana advocates hailed the finalized licenses as a watershed moment for Colorado’s legalization of cannabis, which voters approved in November 2012. “Colorado will be the first state to have a legal marijuana market for adults,” said Mason Tvert, a Denver-based spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of Colorado’s legalization push. “We expect it to set an example for other states.” Opponents of legalization, though, said the licenses are another step in what they fear is an increasingly disastrous pot policy.
“We’re seeing … a massive marijuana industry growing before our eyes,” said Kevin Sabet, who is with a national anti-marijuana group called Project SAM. “I hope it’s not going to be too late before we realize that the road we’re on is going to produce a massive public health problem and public safety problem in Colorado.” State marijuana regulators have previously said they would make a decision on the hundreds of recreational cannabis business applications submitted in October by the end of the year. And it appears they denied very few — if any — applications in doing so.
At the end of October, the state had received 136 applications for recreational marijuana shops, 28 applications for marijuana-infused products companies and 174 applications for marijuana-growing facilities. More applications trickled in after the October deadline, and state officials said some of those might also be acted upon by Jan. 1. The approved licenses sent out Monday are for 136 stores, 31 products companies, 178 growing facilities and three marijuana-testing labs. Julie Postlethwait, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Enforcement Division, said she couldn’t confirm whether any applications have been denied.
Other state officials praised the division for meeting tight deadlines in issuing the licenses. Amendment 64, the measure that legalized marijuana use and limited possession in Colorado for people over 21, gives the state only 90 days to make a decision on an application. “It has taken an enormous team effort to be able to issue state licenses in the timelines identified in Amendment 64,” Barbara Brohl, the head of Colorado’s Department of Revenue, said in a statement.
Because would-be pot shops face significant challenges in obtaining local licenses, the state’s approval on Monday does not mean that 136 recreational marijuana stores will be open on Jan. 1. For instance, in Denver — where the state has signed off on applications for 102 recreational marijuana stores — only eight stores have so far cleared all the hurdles in the local licensing process. And not every business that receives the necessary state and local OKs before the end of the year will be selling recreational marijuana on Jan. 1. Norton Arbelaez, co-owner of RiverRock Wellness dispensaries in Denver, said he does not plan to add recreational sales until probably mid-February because of all the uncertainty in the new market. “There are just so many questions in terms of pricing, is there going to be scarcity, or some kind of lack of product in January that is going to lead to the price of the product doubling or tripling?” he said. “There’s a lot of unknowns.”
Consumption on Private Property
Under the new law, private consumption includes indoors and outdoors of a person’s residence, so long as the property owner allows it. Streets, sidewalks, and public parks are prohibited areas for consumption. Many ski resorts, while privately owned, are likely to have policies disallowing marijuana consumption on their properties for two major reasons. The first pertains to the potential liability of allowing for intoxication of persons while engaging in areas that they could bring potential harm to others (similar to a park setting). The second reason ski resorts are unlikely to allow marijuana consumption on their property is that some resorts actually have trails that abut or occupy public lands.
Driving while Intoxicated is Prohibited
Driving while intoxicated, having open containers, and/or having passengers consume in a vehicle while in operation is prohibited. Vehicles are therefore not considered private property acceptable for consuming marijuana. The state blood-alcohol limit for vehicle operation is 0.08 percent, and the state limit for THC is 5 ng/mL. This test is administered at the police station, and differs from urine and hair follicle tests commonly used by employers for pre-employment drug screens. There are saliva tests available on the market, and to be extra cautious, these could be purchased to ensure the THC has worked its way out before driving. This added expense can be avoided however by following a few general rules. Wait 2-3 hours after smoking or vaporizing marijuana, and do not drive for the remainder of any day that edibles are consumed. This is not a guaranteed metric, but it does provide a baseline. Keep all marijuana and paraphernalia stowed safely in the trunk of your car and out of reach of the driver, and smoke marijuana away from your vehicle.
Similar to medical marijuana, many of the strains and products of the legalized marijuana production industry carry higher THC levels and potencies than what many are familiar with as “street weed.” Edible products are often made with concentrated cannabis oil, and a much smaller quantity of consumption will result in desired effects. With eating cannabis, it is often a wait of up to two hours for full effects to be felt, so it is important to begin with caution and moderation until one becomes familiar with the potency of obtained products. That is to say, the first time eating a particular truffle or brownie consume only 10 mg and wait to feel the full effects before consuming more. Then gauge consumption for future sessions. Concentrates, like oils, hashes, waxes, kief and amber glass should all be test consumed in a manner similar to edibles in terms of steadily gauging a new product upon first trial. Concentrates, unlike edibles, due to the nature of their consumption (smoking) usually take a much shorter time to feel effects and also find that effects wear off more quickly than edibles. This is particularly true of vaporizer pens. These devices deliver the THC in a vaporized form that may give an impression of having a low intensity effect. To the contrary, they often are loaded with concentrated oils, and are likely to be more potent than normal smoking through a pipe or joint.
Colorado resorts brace for marijuana tourism
Trevor Huges, USA TODAY
“Colorado’s ski resorts and mountain towns are bracing for an influx of tourists seeking a now-legal Rocky Mountain high.Last year, the state legalized the possession and use of small amounts of recreational marijuana, and on Jan. 1 special stores will be allowed to sell pot to anyone 21 and over. Voters had previously approved a medical marijuana system, but last fall’s vote threw the doors wide open by requiring state officials to regulate pot like alcohol.With several companies offering marijuana tours — sightseeing tours of the state’s high country, with marijuana supplied — police and ski area operators worry that tourists who don’t understand the rules will be sparking up on the slopes.
“We’re delving into truly uncharted territory here,” said Summit County Sheriff John Minor, whose jurisdiction covers the Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Breckenridge ski areas. “We do have this misperception in Summit County where people have smoked in public, been charged, and were under the perception that it’s a free-for-all.” Under the law, marijuana may be smoked by adults but only in private. But exactly what “private” means is still the subject of debate. Minor says a private vehicle on a public road, for example, is considered “in public.” Marijuana tour operator Timothy Vee of Colorado High Life Tours says to get around those rules, his drivers sometimes pull into a parking lot, allowing tour guests to partake of the pot he offers. Under current law, it’s legal to give another adult marijuana as long as there’s no direct payment for it. Vee and other operators charge people to rent the limo and driver and say the pot, snacks and soda are free.
For $1,200 a day, tourists can rent a chauffeured minibus from Vee to pick them up at their hotel and drive them to the slopes while they use marijuana during the ride. Vee said concerns about impaired skiers and riders are overblown. After all, he says, every ski area has a bar at the bottom of the slope. And for decades, skiers and snowboarders in Colorado have been ducking into the trees for a mid-run toke. Many ski areas are home to illicitly built “smoke shacks” tucked between the slopes, and locals often refer to gondola ski lifts as “ganja-las.” “What I’m getting are a lot of old stoners, and a lot of wealthy people who want to come do it safely with a concierge,” Vee said. “Now the kids are gone, they’re 60 years old and they want to get high.”
Ski resorts worry their slopes’ family-friendly image will take a hit if out-of-state tourists start thinking their kids will be exposed to marijuana smoke in lift lines and gondolas. At Arapahoe Basin in October, mountain manager Al Henceroth confiscated passes from several skiers he caught publicly sharing a joint. In a series of blog posts that drew sometimes-vitriolic responses, Henceroth made a key point: Because most ski areas are on leased federal lands, marijuana use remains illegal. “We will not hesitate to call the cops on this issue,” wrote Henceroth, who declined to be interviewed. Jenn Rudolph, a spokeswoman for the industry group Colorado Ski Country USA, said people who smoke in lift lines and on the slopes will be prosecuted, either by federal forest rangers or local law enforcement working with the resorts. Getting caught smoking pot by a ranger brings a minimum $250 citation, Forest Service officials said. Last year, rangers wrote 112 tickets for marijuana use at Colorado ski areas. This year, they had already written 93 through this September. “Colorado is a family-friendly ski destination, and the law is clear that you can’t smoke marijuana in public,” Rudolph said. “Resorts are going to do what they need to do to enforce that.”[source:http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/22/colorado-resorts-brace-for-marijuana-tourism/4168959/]
Just as any other cultivated crop is manufactured into a product, the level of refinement will meet critics. The progression of this industry will undoubtedly contribute to Cannabis Tourism, and other revenue generating potential for Colorado and Washington.
Denver Post Goes All In For Pot
With the legalization of the sale of marijuana coming into effect in Colorado on January 1st, everyone in the Centennial State has been getting ready for the bloodshot eyes of the nation to be on them. In that spirit, the Denver Post has hired a marijuana editor, and their introductory interview with him is pretty amazing. Ricardo Baca, who covered entertainment and music for the newspaper for the past twelve years, will be taking over the post. He seems pretty excited. Does he smoke weed? “The short answer: I’ve covered concerts for a living over the last 15 years. That means hanging out with musicians, working with people in the industry, attending music festivals in Austin and the Coachella valley and New York and L.A. So yes. Will he share the “beat” with the other reporters in the newsroom?
My colleagues who first approached me about this job told me that I will have access to reporters throughout the newsroom, and the entire staff knows that this is our biggest initiative for the coming year. Best of all, the staff wants to be involved because we’re all professional journalists and this behemoth of a story is the real deal.
Fiscal Benefits to the State
Estimates range anywhere between $0 and $2 billion dollars during the first five years. The initiative applies a 25% excise tax on each level of the system: producer to a processor, processor to a retailer, and retailer to the customer. In addition, B&O taxes on the production and local retail sales taxes apply.
Pot is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Not only would legalization save taxpayers $10 billion yearly on enforcing the prohibition, but there will be a tax bonanza to public treasuries. Retail weed will have a 25% state tax — plus the usual state sales tax of 2.9% — making recreational pot one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in Colorado. Some communities are adding even more taxes to the product. The additional revenue will initially amount to $67 million a year, with $27.5 million of it designated to build schools, state tax officials say. Because buyers of medical pot won’t face the additional taxes. Medicinal weed in Colorado still requires a physician’s recommendation, and the dispensaries will be separate outlets from the recreational pot retailers.
Denver Reduced Penalty for Persons 18-21
For most of Colorado it’s illegal to possess and use marijuana if you’re under 21, but the city of Denver this month decriminalized pot for people between ages 18 and 21. The up-to one year penalty has been removed, but fines still apply, for being caught with an ounce or less.
Youths under age 18 could be sent to a juvenile assessment center instead of jail. The measure ensures kids “don’t have to live into adulthood with mistakes they might have made when they were 19,” Councilman Albus Brooks said in a Denver Post article.
Its Still a Good Idea to Know the Law
If you behave responsibly and in accordance with the law, the liklihood that you will have to interact with a police officer regarding recreational marijuana is rare. Not driving while intoxicated, keeping materials in the trunk during transit, fastening your seatbelts, using headlights at dusk, using turn signals, stopping completely at a stop signs – all measures that will reduce problems. Nonetheless, it is good to make sure you have done your research on the details and specifics of the law. If the situation were to present itself, be calm and respectful, and know you are within your rights to ask if you are under arrest when being detained by law enforcement: specifically say, “Am I free to go?” If arrested or detained, remain silent and state clearly, “I want to remain silent” and ask for an attorney. Local ordinances may limit where you can purchase and enjoy marijuana. Be courteous and polite to Police Officers who pull you over for any reason.
Colorado Legal Schedule for Marijuana
It’s always been a murky relationship between the feds and those states with laws authorizing medical — and now recreational — marijuana. Federal law says the drug’s possession, manufacture, and sale is illegal, punishable by up to life in prison, and its mass cultivation is a sensitive subject among growers, experts say.
But in August, the U.S. Justice Department said it won’t challenge Colorado or other states with laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Instead, federal officials will focus on serious trafficking and keeping the drug away from children. Does this confuse you?b It should, one legal analyst says. “They should be confused,” attorney Alan Dershowitz said. “The federal government still takes the position technically that you’re violating federal law if you’re complying with the state law. But the Obama administration, I believe, has recently has taken a turn on its approach to drug enforcement.”