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What Does Legal Pot Mean in Practice?

By Victoria Kim 05/29/13

Now that Colorado's pioneering recreational marijuana market is officially established, here's what residents can expect.

First legal marijuana market in the world
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Governor John Hickenlooper signed a set of bills yesterday to establish Colorado as the world's first legal, regulated marijuana market. Last November, Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, allowing residents to possess and consume up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes, either purchased from licensed stores or homegrown. A maximum of six marijuana plants are permitted per home, while selling weed without a license or buying from an unlicensed party is still prohibited. And though local authorities may ban retail sales if they choose, home cultivation is allowed statewide. One of the measures signed, HB 1325, establishes a THC limit for drivers; those caught with 5 nanograms or more in their blood will be considered "too stoned to drive" and ticketed.

For the next nine months, only existing medical marijuana dispensaries can apply for a recreational sales license, and only Colorado residents may own or invest in the stores. When the retailers open for business, most likely in January 2014, they must label all pot products with warnings, and information on quantity and potency. Out-of-state customers may be saddened to learn that they can purchase only a quarter-ounce at a time. And marijuana-themed magazines must be kept behind the counter, like pornography; High Times and The Daily Doobie have threatened to sue.

Coloradans will decide in November whether to impose a 10% sales tax (funding the regulation of recreational marijuana) and a 15% excise tax (funding school construction), which would amount to a total rate of 25%. Some state lawmakers fear that voters will reject one or both proposals. Amendment 64 also legalized the commercial growing of hemp—which is genetically related to marijuana but has little or no THC content—though like its cousin, it remains illegal under federal law. The nation's first major hemp crop in almost six decades was planted in southeastern Colorado earlier this month. But don't expect to see Amsterdam-style "coffeeshops" sprouting up—they're still banned, along with incorporated marijuana collectives and pot smoking in bars.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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