Colorado’s laws also include a first-in-the-nation requirement that marijuana magazines such as High Times be kept behind the counter in stores that allow people under 21. That provision has prompted promises by attorneys representing at least two publications to challenge the restriction, which would treat pot magazines similar to pornography.
Besides the magazine restriction, Colorado’s laws differ in several more ways from proposed marijuana regulations pending in Washington state. Colorado makes no attempt to ban concentrated marijuana, or hashish, unlike Washington. Colorado also has different possession limits on edible marijuana. Colorado also is planning a brief grandfather period during which only current medical marijuana business owners could sell recreational pot.
Both states are poised to require all pot-related businesses to have security systems, 24-hour video surveillance and insurance. One of the Colorado laws signed Tuesday gives state pot businesses a chance to claim business deductions on their taxes, something currently prohibited because the industry is illegal under federal law.
Colorado’s laws also propose a series of new taxes on the drug. If voters agree this fall, recreational pot would face a 15 percent excise tax, with the proceeds marked for school construction. There would also be a new recreational pot sales tax of 10 percent, in addition to regular statewide and local sales taxes. The special sales tax would be spent on marijuana regulation and new educational efforts to keep the drug away from children.
“Public safety and the safety of our children were at the forefront of our minds,” said Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, the sponsor of some of the pot bills.
Lawmakers and a few dozen marijuana legalization activists on hand to see the pot bills signed into law agreed that marijuana laws will see many changes in coming years if the federal government doesn’t intervene.
“We are going to be talking about marijuana in the state of Colorado for some time,” predicted Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, a sponsor of the stoned-driving law.
Mason Tvert, spokesman for the national legalization advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project, predicted a lot of states will watch to see how recreational pot regulation works in Colorado and Washington.
“We can regulate the sale of alcohol in a responsible manner, and there’s no reason we can’t regulate the sale of something objectively less harmful — marijuana,” Tvert said.