The Colorado House and Senate unanimously approved a bill that will reduce the number of plants that can be grown at home from 99 per household to 12, except for registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers, who can cultivate up to 24 plants.
Colorado’s original 99-plant limit was higher than any other in the nation, and probably the world.
So why are they doing this?
Supporters of this legislation, House Bill 1220, believe that by reducing residential cultivation, law enforcement agencies can better deter black market growers, investigate current illegal grow operations (reportedly huge) and protect neighborhoods from potential public safety hazards and decreased property values.
Does that answer the question?
Yes and no. Since Colorado legalized marijuana, the crime rate has dropped, and yes, illegal growers have exploited the state’s lenient 99-plant limit.
In a recent sting of a massive home-grow operation in the Denver area, officials found more than 2,500 pounds of pot.
“In a nutshell, this was about home-grown, local folks growing and exporting marijuana (for sale) out of the state of Colorado,” Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, told the Denver Post.
Brauchler said operations were generating about 300-plus pounds of weed a month and selling it outside Colorado.
“Stopping diversion to the black or gray market is a significant benefit of the bill,” Colorado state representative KC Becker told the Colorado Statesman. “We hope the bill can stop cartels, or really anyone who thinks they have an opportunity to discreetly grow in homes in Colorado.”
Apart from concerns over organized crime, many complain that the new bill will force MMJ patients to shop at commercial pot retailers rather than growing enough of their own.
“We’re not respecting patients’ rights as well as pushing the industry forward,” said Jason Warf of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council. “[House Bill] 1220 also hurts dispensaries, as most dispensaries rely on elevated plant counts to maintain stock.”
Colorado has some 19,000 MMJ patients whose doctors have recommended a high number of plants in order to produce cannabis oils and to make other treatments. Some treatments can require up to a pound of weed to produce an ounce of cannabis oil.
Proponents say the legislation is a way of ultimately defending Colorado’s marijuana industry from possible federal interference and threats of a crack down.
How? HB 1220 enables the state’s lawmakers to demonstrate that Colorado can effectively regulate its industry on its own.
“We can’t trust the Trump administration to be measured in their response to legal marijuana,” Becker told the Statesman. “I want to protect Amendment 20 and Amendment 64 [legalizing pot] because they’ve been successful and that’s what the voters want; but to do that, I think we have to show that we are addressing illegal diversions.”