Last year voters in Colorado legalized marijuana but a legal marijuana market can’t exist until the regulations governing one are created. Throughout the week the Colorado legislature moved forward by adopting several bills which would regulate and tax recreational marijuana for adults. The provisions in the bills are a mix of the good, the bad, the common sense and the mundane.
HB 1317 creates the backbone for most the new regulations by expanding the medical marijuana enforcement division to control all legal marijuana. Current medical marijuana dispensaries would have the first chance to apply to become recreational marijuana retailers. Among the many regulations are a requirement that all marijuana business owner be residents of the state, also all marijuana sold must be placed in sealed nontransparent packages and it prohibits marijuana retailers from also selling alcohol. Residents will be able to buy up to the full limit of one ounce of marijuana, but non-residents will only be allowed to buy a quarter ounce at a time.
HB 1318 would establish new marijuana taxes. It would impose a 10 percent sales tax on retail marijuana and 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana. Under Colorado law these tax increases must first go on the ballot to be approved by the voters of the state.
The legislature also approved a bill governing industrial hemp and a new marijuana DUI bill that sets a limit 5 nanograms THC per milliliter in blood.
All of the newly approved bills now go to Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) for his signature.
This is the first big step in what will be an ever evolving process. Like all other regulations, expect these to be continuously modified by the legislature in the coming years to adjust to what is and is not working in the new system. It is likely these laws will also serve as a blueprint for other states when they eventually legalize marijuana.