In an attempt to put the leashes on black market cultivation rings, Colorado’s legislative forces are working to restrict the number of plants allowed for marijuana home grows.
On Monday, a House committee approved a measure in a vote of 11-to-2 aimed at limiting marijuana home grows to 12 plants.
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As it stands, Colorado has one of the most liberal pot laws in the country with respect to home cultivation, allowing medical marijuana patients to have as many as 99 plants.
And while the recreational side is only permitted to grow six plants per household, the law allows people to get involved with co-ops – giving way to unknown amounts of marijuana being produced across the state.
In some parts of Colorado, local ordinances already dictate a 12-plant limit in residential areas, but some lawmakers believe it is necessary to take this concept to the state level in order to thwart organized crime.
Last year, Governor John Hickenlooper said the state’s gray marijuana market was allowing weed to be produced legally in Colorado and then shipped to other parts of the United States to be sold in the underground. He called the situation a “clear and present danger” that requires tighter regulations and tougher enforcement.
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“If we don’t stamp it out right now, it becomes acceptable. And then all the sudden, people are going to start getting hurt,” Hickenlooper said. “If you let crime grow, it will breed on its opportunity.”
Yet, some marijuana advocates are concerned that a more restrictive home cultivation law will only hinder patients from producing the amount of medicine needed to combat their respective health condition. However, state officials argue that Colorado’s current home cultivation standard is unlike any other medical marijuana state in the nation – none of which allow participants to grow anywhere close to 20 plants, much less 99.
Governor Hickenlooper’s office says its is crucial for the state to set some boundaries on this issue, especially with the possibility of a federal crackdown on the horizon.
“In the midst of uncertainty at the federal level … we think it’s imperative” that Colorado show it can regulate pot,” Mark Bolton, the governor’s marijuana adviser, told the Associated Press.
There is a distinct possibility that President Trump’s Department of Justice, which is overseen by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, could pull the plug on legal weed in Colorado if it suspects the state’s cultivation laws are assisting the drug cartels.
After all, the DOJ already believes legal weed is causing trouble in the United States, including an uprising in violent activity.
Last week, Sessions told reporters there were problems with interstate drug trafficking due to legalization in states like Colorado.
“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved,” he said, referencing a meeting he had with the attorney general of Nebraska.
But the real trouble, according to marijuana advocates, is the federal government’s refusal to establish a nationwide marijuana policy that allows the substance to be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.
“The part of the reason this gray market even exists is because the federal government refuses to acknowledge the medical efficacy of marijuana, as well as continues to follow archaic law pertaining to a drug war that has clearly failed,” Rachel Gillette with Colorado Norml told the Denver Post in 2016.
Colorado’s new home grow proposal must now go before the full House for a vote.