Federal marijuana prohibition in the United States started with a knock on a Denver man's apartment door. Seventy-six years ago, Samuel Caldwell became the first person arrested and prosecuted under a federal charge of selling marijuana, after drug enforcement agents busted him with 3 pounds of cannabis in his apartment. Three-quarters of a century and an estimated 26 million marijuana arrests after Caldwell's, legal marijuana sales were set to start at 8 a.m. in Colorado.
On January 1, 2014, Colorado becomes the first place anywhere in the world to allow legal marijuana sales to anybody over 21 for any purpose. You have questions about how it will work? Since the voter-approved Amendment 64 (ah, there it is) went into effect on Dec. 10, 2012, it has been legal for anyone 21 and over to use marijuana or possess up to an ounce of marijuana for any purpose. Here are 64 answers to commonly asked questions.
The first licences in the United States that permit retailers to sell marijuana for recreational use from 1 January were issued in Colorado. Owners of cannabis dispensaries lined up to collect the permits in Denver: an initial batch of 42 licences were issued, most to growers but around a dozen to shops. The state already licenses more than 500 medical marijuana dispensaries, and only those outlets may apply to sell it for recreational use. (See also: Colorado issues first licenses for recreational marijuana businesses)
Prohibitionists warn that it’s dangerous even to discuss legalizing marijuana because such talk sends “the wrong message” to the youth of America, encouraging them to smoke pot. If so, you might expect that the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, approved by voters more than a year ago, would have a noticeable impact on marijuana use by teenagers. Yet the latest data from the government-sponsored Monitoring the Future Study indicate that teenagers continued smoking pot at pretty much the same rates as before.
A measure to impose taxes on recreational marijuana passed making pot one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in Colorado. Proposition AA imposes a 15 percent excise tax on the wholesale price and an initial 10 percent sales tax on the retail price. The measure is expected to bring in $67 million a year. Of that, $27.5 million generated by the excise tax would go toward school construction, as specified in the constitutional amendment that legalized recreational marijuana use.
The US drug policy is changing, pitting states against federal law. This essay explores this inner friction of contradictory drug legislation, and what it may mean for the international drug control regime, itself a result of US drug policy. (4,400 words)
The growing societal acceptance of cannabis in the U.S. has sparked what some call a "green rush" of people trying to cash in on what is already a multi-billion-dollar business. And as the marijuana industry comes out of the shadows, its producers, consumers and advocates are pushing for more transparency – both about cannabis' alleged medical benefits and its environmental impacts.
Nearly a year after Colorado and Washington State voted to become the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the detailed rules governing how pot will be grown, sold and taxed are finally complete. And as the two states implement their different approaches, the whole world is watching. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a new panel, headed by California Lieut. Governor Gavin Newsom, to draft a possible 2016 ballot measure to legalize pot in California.
Legal cannabis will naturally be much, much cheaper than illegal cannabis. A joint is the same sort of item as a teabag: the dried flowers of a plant in a wrapper. A fancy teabag costs a dime at the supermarket; the marijuana in an average joint costs about $4 (0.4 gram of sinsemilla flowers @ $10/gram) on the current illicit and quasi-medical markets. The combination of not having to worry about law enforcement and the economies of mass production will inevitably drive the joint price down close to the teabag price.
As Colorado prepares for the opening of historic recreational marijuana stores, state officials are preparing for something equally as unique — a regulatory challenge of almost maddening complexity. Faced with these challenges, marijuana regulators in Colorado stop short of guaranteeing an airtight system. But Ron Kammerzell, the state Department of Revenue's deputy senior director of enforcement, is confident the department will be able to catch most fraud.
Nearly a year ago, Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana sales. Now it’s time to regulate them. The two states have taken slightly different approaches. Washington’s are slightly more restrictive. There will be limits on the number of sellers’ licenses available there, keeping plants for personal use is not allowed and advertising is restricted to 1,600 square inches (about a meter squared). Colorado has already begun accepting licenses without a cap, cultivation for personal use is allowed and stores could open as soon as January.
A proposal that could lead to the repeal of marijuana legalization in Colorado has gained momentum at the state Capitol. The repeal would be linked to a measure on marijuana taxes that is expected to go before voters in November, according to legislators and advocacy groups involved in the discussions. The premise is that, if voters do not approve the taxes, then Amendment 64, the initiative passed just months ago to legalize marijuana, would be repealed.
Lawmakers introduced a long-awaited bill of proposed regulations for recreational marijuana, moving Colorado one step closer to a legal pot marketplace. The 57-page bill — House Bill 1317 — contains most of the ideas endorsed by a special legislative committee for how recreational marijuana businesses should operate and be structured. A second bill, House Bill 1318, lays out a proposed tax structure for marijuana that voters would be asked to approve.
Colorado lawmakers stood the state's current model for marijuana businesses on its head, endorsing a proposal that would allow recreational pot stores and commercial growers to operate independently. Currently, medical-marijuana businesses in Colorado are vertically integrated, meaning growers and sellers are part of the same company and the stores grow most of what they sell. But, at the final meeting of a legislative committee writing a bill for recreational marijuana rules, lawmakers backed a proposed model where growers and sellers would be separate. (See also: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock: Pot should be phased in; no pot clubs)
Colorado lawmakers yanked and tugged at the threads of the state's proposals for regulating recreational marijuana, as one legislator hinted to his colleagues that pulling too hard could unravel the whole thing. At its second meeting, the legislature's joint marijuana committee returned again to the question of how to structure the marijuana stores that Colorado voters authorized in November.
An ad-hoc committee of 10 House and Senate members started work reviewing 165 pages of recommended regulations from a task force that worked for more than three months to suggest rules for the newly legal drug. The suggested rules cover the entire product cycle of pot—from how marijuana should be grown and labeled to how to tax the drug and spend the proceeds. The 10 lawmakers on the House-Senate pot committee will ultimately suggest a bill for the full Legislature.
A citizens' group opposed to a large-scale recreational marijuana industry in Colorado has hired two powerhouse lobbyists in preparation for the state legislature's coming pot fight. Smart Colorado formed as a nonprofit group within the last weeks, group leader Doug Robinson said. They have hired former congressional candidate Mike Feeley and longtime Capitol lobbyist Sandra Hagen Solin to represent it as legislators write the laws for the forthcoming recreational marijuana industry.
The United States must not turn a blind eye to the recreational use of cannabis in states that liberalize drug laws, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said, urging the country to live up to its treaty commitments. Raymond Yans, president of the INCB, said assurances from the U.S. government in December that growing, selling or possessing the drug remained illegal under federal law were "good, but insufficient".