When residents of Colorado voted 55% to legalize marijuana, retail stores began preparing to sell the drug starting January 1, 2014. Colorado is the first state in the nation to open “pot stores” and they are the only place in the world where the marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale.

The reason many voters chose to legalize this drug is to save the tax payers money. Tax payers spend $10 billion dollars a year trying to enforce the prohibition. If marijuana is not prohibited, there is no need to bring charges against those who are caught with it.

Now that marijuana is legal, as with anything being sold legally, there are taxes. Retail weed has a state tax on it of 25%. There is also the usual state’s sales tax of 2.9%. Marijuana is the highest taxed item in the state of Colorado. The state of Colorado is benefiting hugely due to the legalization of retail marijuana.. The state should bring in an additional $67 million dollars a year in revenue. Lawmakers say that they will use $27.5 million dollars of that money to build more schools. Medical marijuana laws are a bit different. A person with a written prescription from a physician can purchase marijuana with no additional taxes attached to the sale.

On January 1, 2017, three dozen retail marijuana shops opened. Eighteen of these stores were in Denver. Retail pot stores have to go through a very lengthy licensing process with a lot of red tape. This is believed to be the reason that more stores did not open on January 1. There are about 160 retailers still cutting through the red tap in order to get licenses for their store.

Laws are Still There

Just because it is legal to walk into a store and buy marijuana in Colorado now, there are still strict laws in effect.

If a person is 21 years of age or older, they can go into a store with a Colorado ID and purchase up to an ounce of marijuana. People visiting Colorado will be allowed to purchase a quarter ounce. It is not against the law for someone who purchased the marijuana to smoke it with a friend as long as that friend is also over 21 years of age and as long as no money is exchanged between the two friends.

While it is legal to smoke a cigarette on a city street, the same is not true for marijuana. Smoking marijuana is only to be done on private property, as long as the properties owner has given permission. It is not legal to smoke in the pot store where you purchased the marijuana. It is legal for counties to not allow pot stores. Many towns have already done this including Colorado Springs and Greenely. Many ski resorts in Colorado worry about skiers lighting up on the slopes. It can impair the skier’s ability and can also be a problem for other skiers. Many resorts are looking into ways to prevent skiers from lighting up.

Growing Your Own

It is legal for a person to grow their own marijuana as long as they are 21 or older. Growers are allowed six plants and the area where they are growing their plants must remain enclosed from view and locked.

When it comes to underage smoking, those laws have changed a bit as well. If a person between 18 and 21 gets caught with marijuana, they will receive a fine rather than being taken to jail. If a child under 18 is caught with the newly legalized drug, they will be sent to a juvenile detention center rather than jail.

It is possible for a person to be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. If the THC level in a person’s blood is higher than 5 nanograms, they are considered impaired.

While some people’s opinion of the legalization of retail pot differs, there is one thing that both sides of the controversy can be happy about, there are laws and everything is regulated.

Photo credit: Gruenemann / Foter.com / CC BY

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