Colorado’s legalization of marijuana has been one of the greatest successes in the short history of legalization, providing a road map for other states. It all started with opening up access to marijuana for medical reasons and moved to full passage of medical marijuana laws. Colorado then became the first state in the union allowing weed to be bought, possessed, and used recreationally. Colorado and her citizens are leading the way.
The state has been involved with oversight where needed but maintains a hands-off posture when appropriate.
The millions in tax revenue – which we’ll update later in this post – has shown other states that marijuana products provide lucrative business as well as a vital medicine. In the past years and decades, we’ve learned about the many people who had suffered from painful illness and debilitating conditions, who have now found relief with medical marijuana. The difference this has made for those individuals is priceless!
Update on Proposed Regulations
The economic growth brought by marijuana sales to Colorado has been amazing to see and we don’t see any signs of this slowing down. But some state legislators’ proposals could possibly curtail that growth with new restrictions.
A proposed bill would establish new regulations on dispensaries, requiring data collection to make sure that limits set by the adult-use law are enforced. The data could be used to crack down on those who exceed the limit.
It would require in-person consultations with doctors to get medical marijuana cards. Doctors could not issue or renew the cards via telemedicine.
The bill would also impose a limit on the THC content of commercial marijuana. State Representative Yadira Caraveo (D), one of the sponsors of the bill, has said that the bill is needed to keep high potency weed out of the hands of minors.
There is no conclusive evidence found that indicates high-potency THC products are more dangerous than low-THC weed. And dispensary owners argue that this is not a potency issue, but a parenting problem.
The proposed THC cap is considered arbitrary and goes against the best interests of consumers. People should be able to have full access to different strains of marijuana with different potency levels. There is concern that if the cap eliminates the market for certain strains, it could be driven back underground. This would make those strains unregulated and less safe.
Around one-third of legal marijuana sales in the state are concentrates. Back in 2014, that figure stood at 11 percent. That increase is concerning for proponents of the legislation.
This legislation would be the biggest overhaul of Colorado weed oversight since legalization.
Caraveo was also part of a past attempt to set the limit at 15% but that was shot down right away. There will continue to be discussions about whether a cap should be set and at what levels. Thankfully, proponents of legalized weed in the legislature are being careful about the prospect of imposing limits on such a profitable industry.
Rewriting History for the Better
Last October the governor signed an executive order to clear some of the convictions for low-level offenders. Those affected had convictions for possession of one ounce of ganja or less. (One ounce is also the current limit for adult possession. Registered medical marijuana users have a two-ounce limit.) The governor’s order only applied to the state courts.
Now raising the limit to two ounces is being proposed in the legislature, and with that will come the prospect that the pardons will extend to those with convictions of two ounces or less.
House Bill 1090 was introduced by Denver representative Alex Valdez. The bill would require courts to seal past convictions for possession of two ounces or less, and district attorneys would not have a chance to object. This would apply to local convictions, which will affect a lot more people than the governor’s executive order for the state courts.
The bill also addresses convictions for Class 3 marijuana cultivation felonies, which involve charges of growing more than twelve plants but fewer than 25. The bill wouldn’t legalize growing that many plants. The current weed limit for home growers is twelve plants, with six of the twelve being allowed to be mature at any given time.
One of the goals of the bill is to right some of the wrongs that happened in the past. Representative Valdez said a new computer program may be needed to make it easier for courts to lookup local cases.
This type of minor marijuana-related offenses has stood in the way of people getting jobs, obtaining student loans, or concealed-carry permits. The lifting of so many convictions will make a real difference in the quality of life for a lot of people.
In a Hard Year, Some Big Positives
In 2020, marijuana sales in Colorado hit over $2.2 billion – that’s a record! Tax revenues were almost $400 million as a result.
2020 was a difficult year for most businesses because of the Covid 19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns. When the lockdown began in March, weed sales went through the roof. Consumers were seeking ways to handle the stress and isolation inherent to the pandemic.
There have been $10 billion in sales in Colorado since legalization seven years ago.
The positive impact it has had on Colorado is difficult to overstate. More money for schools, more small businesses, more happy people, less pain for those with chronic illness! In large ways and small, legalization has made a big difference. Colorado is charting a new course for success.