Colorado Marijuana Legislation is Unveiled

On the eve of 4/20, a day when many gathered in celebration, the Colorado legislature unveiled the first bills focused on the regulation of marijuana. In light of the recent passage of Amendment 64, the legislature has been working on how to implement new regulations in this age of legalized recreational marijuana.  Before these bills become law, they must pass is both the house and senate. This is a process requiring no fewer than six different votes. The bills must pass before May 8, the end of the legislative session. If no resolution is reached, it is likely that the legislature will consider a special session to ensure that regulations are in place prior to the opening of retail marijuana stores in January, 2014.

The two bills are focused on regulation of growing and selling, and tax structures for the sale of marijuana. House Bill 1317 is the legislation outlining regulation of growers and sellers. The bill is sponsored by Dan Pabon, a Democrat from Denver. The 57-page bill codifies how sellers and stores are to be operated and governed. Some of the major points:

–          Unlike current regulations of medical marijuana dispensaries, growers and sellers could operate separately. In other words, a licensed retail marijuana store and licensed retail marijuana products manufacture may either grow its own marijuana or purchase it from a retail marijuana cultivation facility. Under current law, medical marijuana dispensaries must grow their own product.

  • In order to own or be employed in a marijuana shop, you must be a Colorado resident, and must have resided in Colorado for at least two years prior to applying.
  • Sale to non-residents will be limited to ¼ oz. per person
  • Current owners of medical marijuana dispensaries will be given a three-month window to apply for recreational marijuana licenses before other individuals who are not currently licensed for medical marijuana are given an opportunity to apply. In addition, those applying must undergo a background check as part of the application process.
  • Prohibited activities include but are not limited to: using advertising that appeals to minors; providing any public premises for the purpose of consumption of marijuana; sale of marijuana outside of the licensed premises; and buying marijuana from a person not licensed to sell. Violation of any of these regulations is a class 2 misdemeanor.

The second bill, House Bill 1318 focuses on taxation of recreational marijuana. The bill is sponsored by Jonathan Singer, a Democrat from Longmont. The bill imposes at 15% special sales tax for the purchase of recreational marijuana, and a 15% excise tax for any transfer of unprocessed retail marijuana from grower to seller. The 15% sales tax is in addition to the current 2.9% state sales tax and any local government sales tax. This sales tax would take effect January 1, 2014. The 15% excise tax will be based on the average market rate of unprocessed marijuana on the date of transfer. In addition to passing in the House and Senate, the tax bill must also be passed by Colorado voters in November.

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