DENVER – Here are some commonly asked questions and answers about marijuana legalization.
What happens now? People in Colorado 21 and older can now possess up to an ounce or less of marijuana, privately use marijuana, and grow up to six marijuana plants (only three of which can be flowering). Sales remain prohibited.
Can people smoke and/or use marijuana in public? No, that remains forbidden under the guidelines of Amendment 64.
Where can one obtain marijuana? This remains a tricky aspect of Amendment 64 due to the fact that the sale of marijuana remains prohibited until business licenses are distributed (likely not until late next year or early 2014). Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are also not allowed to sell to the general public.
What about driving laws now that marijuana legalization is in effect? Driving under the influence of marijuana was illegal and remains illegal under current law. Unlike Washington, Colorado does not yet have a specific threshold for marijuana impairment. Lawmakers in Colorado have previously considered a so-called 5 nanogram limit for THC per milliliter of blood, but they have yet to reach a consensus.
If a police officer stops me and I have an ounce or less of marijuana, will I be ticketed or arrested? Under the guidelines of Amendment 64, an adult 21 and older can privately posses and use an ounce or less. As long as you are not doing anything else that would be considered illegal, you should not be subject to a ticket or arrest by a local officer.
Can I grow marijuana in my apartment? According to the authors of Amendment 64, a landlord does not have to allow a tenant to grow marijuana.
What about marijuana use and my employer? Amendment 64 allows employers to continue to use their current policies when it comes to the use of marijuana by their employees. Bottom line, employers will continue to have a lot of leeway when it comes to limiting/prohibiting marijuana use by their employees.
What about the federal government? Isn’t marijuana illegal under federal law? The federal government, through the U.S. Department of Justice, has repeatedly reiterated its stance that marijuana remains illegal, but it has yet to provide clear guidance to states like Washington and Colorado when it comes to voter-approved recreational use of marijuana. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado has stated in the past that at some point the top federal prosecutor in the state would provide some guidance, but it remains unclear when that might arrive.
When will schools start receiving money from revenues raised from marijuana taxation? The Colorado General Assembly will approve a ballot question for an excise tax of up to 15% during the next legislative session. It is assumed that ballot question will appear on your ballot in November of 2013. The excise tax, under the guidelines of 64, will have to be in effect prior to January 1, 2017.
Will medical marijuana dispensaries be allowed to sell marijuana for recreational use? Under the guidelines of 64, dispensaries will eventually be allowed to convert to a recreational retail store once a licensing structure is place, but they can remain strictly medical as well. Some dispensaries have already publicly stated they will remain medical and not switch over to recreational.
What happens if I possess more than an ounce or marijuana? That remains illegal under state and federal law.
Can municipalities ban marijuana? Cities, counties and towns can, under the language of 64, ban the sale of marijuana. Douglas County, for example, has already announced a plan to do so, but no municipality can ban the possession and use of an ounce or less by adults 21 and older.