After the passing of Amendment 64 in Nov., Colorado faces the new challenges of integrating the use of recreational marijuana into everyday life.
Here is what you need to know.
The basics of Amendment 64
If you are 21 or older, you are allowed to use marijuana, possess up to one ounce of marijuana, and grow up to six plants. Colorado has been on the forefront of legalizing marijuana within the United States because medicinal marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000.
There is no need for a specific license to purchase marijuana, as was needed to buy medicinal marijuana.
The list of places that you can’t smoke or use marijuana far outweigh the places you can, including on school grounds, federal office buildings, courthouse, national parks and forests, in public parks or on the sidewalk, and places where the owner does not permit the use or possession of marijuana like apartment buildings or other rented properties.
Basically, it is legal within the privacy of your own home, one of the only places you can evade legal trouble.
The exact procedure of purchasing marijuana is still unclear.
In late 2013 and early 2014, recreational marijuana dispensaries (venues to sell marijuana) are expected to open as well as marijuana clubs (venues in which to smoke marijuana in a more social setting and may be able to sell, too.)
However, MMJ (medical marijuana) dispensaries are still only allowed to sell marijuana to state registered medical marijuana users. MMJ dispensaries are allowed to make the switch to recreational marijuana clubs in Oct. 2013, but they are not required to do so.
What does it mean for the medicinal marijuana world?
As many saw before the 2012 election, there were numerous medicinal marijuana companies and dispensaries that were completely against the passing of Amendment 64.
Right now in El Paso County, there are over 15,000 MMJ patients. In November of 2012, the Colorado MMJ registry saw its first decline of active patients in over a year.
According to an interview with Westword magazine in Denver, Head of Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education Rico Colibri noted “the fiscal impact reports that projected as much as a 79 percent decline in medical marijuana patients” if the amendment passed.
State fiscal reports have also predicted this decrease with the passing of 64.
Many are already attempting to ban the amendment in certain counties and to go back to only having medicinal marijuana dispensaries, before an infrastructure of any kind has been set up.
On Jan. 15, 2013, El Paso County Board of County Commissioners passed the second and final proposal of an ordinance banning “retail-marijuana facilities in unincorporated [meaning all the land that is not in a City or Town] areas if the county.”
This vote doesn’t affect the personal growing of marijuana or any previous MMJ laws in unincorporated areas, but does affect MMJ centers, which will not be able to transition to recreational marijuana clubs as some had intended to do, and ambitious entrepreneurs will not be able to test the waters of recreational marijuana clubs within El Paso County.
What could we see in the future?
Marijuana clubs could be in the near future for Colorado, and the first ones are starting to be formed.
The White Horse Inn, in Del Norte, was the first cannabis/coffee bar to open, but closed after only one day because of a dispute with the building’s landlord. However, owner Paul Lovato hopes to be up and running again some time very soon, according to WeedEntreprenuer.com.
Another cannabis club is now open in Denver. Club 64 is a private marijuana society that opened its doors on Jan. 1. Anyone age 21 or over can apply for a membership
Along with these clubs, one company based in California hopes to start selling marijuana out of vending machines in Colorado and Washington. These vending machines can already be found in certain states for medicinal marijuana and require a fingerprint of the patient, which is connected to his or her specific prescription.
The company, MedBox, has a vision for the future that includes marijuana vending machines that are available 24/7, but for now they are working with officials in Colorado and Washington to create the framework for the new recreational marijuana industry.
They are also helping operators in these states to get licenses.
Times are changing in Colorado, but it is important to remember that although marijuana is legal for 21 and up, it is still illegal federally, even though President Obama said that the federal government has “bigger fish to fry” than going after recreational marijuana users.
College administrators all around Colorado are contemplating how to adapt to the changes in state law, but Colorado College officials have previously stated, “The college policy does not allow the use of marijuana, whether on-campus or off-campus. If a student violates this code, he or she is subject to disciplinary action through the college’s judicial process.”
So be smart, kids, and watch as Colorado leads the movement for recreational marijuana use.