As part of an effort to crack down on the black market sale of marijuana in Colorado, a new bill was proposed and passed by the House on Monday. The bill imposes a limit of 16 plants per residence be grown, whether for recreational or medical purposes. This change comes as a surprise to many as the current limit of plants per home is 99 for those with a medical marijuana card and caregivers of patients. The problem that law enforcement has encountered is that crime organizations have been using this leniency to their own ends. Medical patients may still be allowed to grow over the limit but only in areas that are zoned for large commercial grows.
Details About the Restriction
Police Chief John Jackson of Greenwood Village supports the bill, stating “Colorado voters did not envision massive, commercial-grade home-grow operations in residential areas and those who maintain that this is in some way permitted by the State Constitution are flat out wrong. The current limit of 99 plants is a massive loophole in our state law that attracts criminal elements from across our nation in search of a quick buck.” Local government would be allowed to further restrict the number of plants that are allowed to be grown. An example of this already exists in Denver, where the limit is 12 plants per household.
Bolstering Law Enforcement
The measure is part of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s effort to increase law enforcement around marijuana being grown legally but sold illegally. Another bill was also approved by the House that presents itself as a companion bill. The measure allows for a $6 million grant to help law enforcement police those who are growing marijuana illegally. The grant will be paid for out of the state’s marijuana cash fund which comes directly from money generated by the state’s marijuana revenue.
Potential Response to Federal Warning
The bills come after comments made by key people in the Trump administration in the last couple of weeks caused some panic amongst marijuana advocates across the country. Sean Spicer, the press secretary, was the first to come out and say that the administration would be cracking down on recreational marijuana. He stated that medical marijuana was safer, as Trump understands that it can be helpful to those with terminal illnesses, but recreational marijuana was a different story. Following these statements, long time marijuana opponent Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that marijuana led to violence in the black market and indicated that he echoed Spicer’s sentiments.
Trump repeatedly said that he would let states create their own laws when it comes to marijuana and it’s possible that, in the end, this policy will still apply but many, including Hickenlooper, are taking all precautions to make sure the industry is as well maintained and structured as possible. The new bill puts Colorado in line with other states across the country, as no other state has a limit of more than 16 plants per home. The new bills still need to be passed by the Senate but, if they are, they will further create a safety net around Colorado’s marijuana industry.