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Legal Lines: Impact of the passage of Amendment 64

Question: Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, was passed by Colorado voters on Nov. 6. What will be allowed under the new amendment?

 Answer: Amendment 64 was created to increase individual freedoms, enhance revenue for public purposes and to use Colorado law enforcement and judicial resources more efficiently. In order to achieve these goals, Amendment 64 legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for individuals who are 21 and older; taxes and regulates the sale of recreational marijuana, and provides for the regulated production and distribution of industrial hemp.

 Under Amendment 64, individuals who are 21 and older will be able to cultivate up to six marijuana plants, three of which are flowering and three of which are vegetating. These individuals will be able to keep all of the marijuana harvested from these plants, so long as the harvested marijuana is stored on the same premises where the marijuana plants were grown.

Individuals will also be able to possess, use, display, purchase or transport up to an ounce of marijuana, as well as marijuana accessories.

Individuals who are 21 and older also will be able to transfer up to an ounce of marijuana to another individual over the age of 21 without receiving money.

However, public consumption of marijuana, as well as driving under the influence of marijuana, will remain a crime in Colorado.

 Amendment 64 allows for the creation of recreational marijuana businesses, similar to the current medical marijuana businesses. Amendment 64 does not affect medical marijuana centers, and holders of a medical marijuana business license also will be able to apply for and possess a recreational marijuana business license.

Amendment 64 sets a deadline of July 1, by which time the Colorado Department of Revenue must adopt regulations for the implementation of commercial marijuana businesses, including cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities and retail sales facilities.

 Amendment 64 provides that the state Legislature shall enact an excise tax on the sale of marijuana. Amendment 64 mandates that this excise tax is not to exceed 15 percent. However, the percentage of the tax can be adjusted after Jan. 1, 2017, by the General Assembly. The first $40 million in tax revenue generated from the sale of recreational marijuana is earmarked for the Public School Capitol Construction Assistance Fund. Amendment 64 also directs the Colorado General Assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp by July 1, 2014. 

 Unlike Amendment 20, Colorado’s medical marijuana constitutional provision, Amendment 64 does not restrict recreational use of marijuana to only Colorado residents. This lack of residency requirements allows individuals over the age of 21 to travel to Colorado and use and possess marijuana while in Colorado. Furthermore, Amendment 64 does not expressly prohibit Amsterdam-style “coffee shops” or businesses that allow customers to consume marijuana onsite.

 The Colorado Bar Association welcomes your questions on subjects of general interest. This column is meant to be used as general information. Consult your own attorney for specifics. Send questions to the CBA attn: Sara Crocker, 1900 Grant St., Suite 900, Denver, CO 80203 or email scrocker@cobar.org.

 About Legal Lines

Legal Lines is a question and answer column provided as a public service by the Colorado Bar Association. Attorneys answer questions of interest to members of the public for their general information.

This story was posted on November 28, 2012.