Thanks to the most expansive plant limits in America, there’s no better place to be an at-home marijuana farmer than Colorado.
This has also meant there’s no better place to grow cannabis under legal protections in order to ship it around the country and sell it on the black market than Colorado.
And Colorado is tired of it—as is federal law enforcement, which is leading authorities all over the Rocky Mountain State to ponder paring back those plant limits.
Medical marijuana patients in Colorado can grow up to 99 plants, Westword notes, with recreational cannabis users—read: anyone 21 and over—able to cultivate six plants per person. And both patients and rec users have the ability to join up with other adults to form a larger co-op of plants.
In both scenarios, there’s no oversight from the state or from police required.
That’s the way most cannabis cultivators like it, but law enforcement claims that this is being used and abused by unscrupulous types shipping marijuana out of state.
This fall, law enforcement seized 22,400 pounds of cannabis grown under legal cover that was intended for sale on the black market in other states—and rather than draw more attention from the feds, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is proposing a scale-back in how much cannabis Colorado citizens can grow.
No more than 12 plants per residence would be allowed in any scenario under Hickenlooper’s current proposal, Westword reported.
That would be in line with a 12-plant limit already in place in Denver—which is also pondering ways to restrict things even further.
Bigger commercial operations would be allowed under current state law, which also requires that cannabis to be tracked and traced as to prevent diversion out of state.
New restrictions on caregivers are already going into effect on Jan. 1. Denver officials may present new rules for consideration in the first three months of 2017, according to Westword.
In addition to a 12-plant cap, Hickenlooper is asking legislators to ponder a total ban on group recreational grows. It’s not clear if he’d be able to make the changes via the legislature or if he’d have to go to voters—as the state’s plant limits are literally enshrined in the state constitution, as the Associated Press noted.
That 12-plant cap is still more liberal than most pot laws in the country, Westword noted. In California, recreational users are limited to six plants per person per residence (though more plants are allowed for medical patients in certain counties). In Washington, anyone wanting to grow more than four plants needs to acquire a state permit.
Medical marijuana advocates say that any new restrictions are in violation of the “spirit” of Colorado’s medical and recreational cannabis laws—but any spirit or intent may not matter much in the face of federal pressure.
Under Barack Obama, the federal Justice Department has largely left states alone—even as cops complain openly and loudly about marijuana from Colorado and other legal states flooding the country. With President-elect Donald Trump nominating marijuana-loathing Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice as attorney general, all bets are off with regard to how the feds will behave.
But states like Colorado are definitely on notice.
“We do need to clean up this system and make sure we’re beyond reproach for how well we’re regulating marijuana,” Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s cannabis czar, told the Associated Press earlier this month. “We’re hearing from federal officials, ‘Hey, listen, this is a concern.’”
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