Possible Rules for Recreational Marijuana Taking Shape

A task force appointed by Governor Hickenlooper now has until the end of March to settle and forward its recommendations to the Colorado legislature. The task force has no power to make rules, but its recommendations are expected to have an impact on the shape of the legislation expected by the end of the current session on May 8.

Among the issues under discussion are questions concerning regulation of recreational “pot-shops,” limitations on sales to non-residents, presumptive THC DUI limits for drivers, and specific definitions on the question of what constitutes “private” vs.” public” consumption. ( For example, should consumption on the publicly observable patio, balcony or porch of a private residence be considered public or private?)   The main “task force” is working through reports and recommendations from five different subgroups and a list of more than 100 legal issues.

Some issues have already been addressed. Under proposals submitted by the task force on February 25, marijuana products would have to be sold in child-proof packaging and not contain any logos or ingredients designed solely to appeal to children. They could not be mixed with nicotine. Marijuana and pot-infused edibles would have to come with labels that would detail the items’ potency and also disclose the pesticides or fertilizers used in cultivation. Recreational pot-shops could sell only marijuana and marijuana-related items such as pipes. They could not advertise anywhere that children would be exposed to their ads, such as television, radio, billboards or general-distribution newspapers. Recreational-marijuana stores would not be able to make any health claims about their products.

Among the most problematic issues are whether and to what extent nonresidents of Colorado can  purchase marijuana through regulated outlets. On the one hand, many travel experts predict that the decriminalization of limited amounts of recreational marijuana will drastically increase tourism in the state, with its associated revenues.  On the other hand, opponents cite the danger that Colorado’s image will be tarnished by an influx of “stoners,” and that it will inevitably serve as the source for a black market in marijuana transport and sales to surrounding states, with a potential federal backlash.

Possession of marijuana remains a federal offense.

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