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The 411 on Marijuana in Colorado

Amendment 64 has opened doors for many businesses in Colorado, but the federal government is not on board with the semi-legalization of marijuana in Colorado. As such, many dispensary owners have faced federal indictments in relation to operating a dispensary. Even in Colorado, caregivers who are not meeting the requirements of being a caregiver (merely providing marijuana is not enough to be considered a caregiver) are also being faced with criminal charges. While the industry is appealing, lucrative, and exciting, there are many risks involved with the distribution of medical and recreational marijuana. As such, it is important to have a firm that will educate you on the law, advise you as to how to proceed to avoid potential criminal charges, and to fight for you if you are under any criminal investigation.

Amendment 64, contrary to popular belief, did not make marijuana legal. Amendment 64 essentially established an affirmative defense to the possession, distribution, and/or manufacture of marijuana (much like self-defense is an affirmative defense to assault). Amendment 64 decriminalizes adult (over the age of 21) possession, cultivation and use of marijuana on a limited basis. The Amendment makes it lawful for an adult to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. The Amendment is silent on whether this includes hash, oil, edibles, and other marijuana concentrates. The Amendment also permits the cultivation of up to 6 plants, with three or fewer being mature flowering plants. An adult can also transfer up to 1 ounce of marijuana to another adult, as long as there is no renumeration. Public consumption of marijuana is not permitted.

The state began accepting applications for marijuana retail businesses in October 2013. As with medical marijuana businesses, local governments are permitted to refuse to allow such businesses to be located in their town, county, etc. Preference will be given to medical marijuana business licensees who have demonstrated the ability to lawfully operate such a business. This does not mean that non-medical marijuana business applicants will be excluded, just that medical marijuana business will receive preference in licensing. Unlike medical marijuana businesses who were permitted to operate until the license was granted, marijuana businesses will not be able to begin operation until both the state and local licenses are granted.

Amendment 64 closely tracks the language of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code, C.R.S. 12-43.3-101 et seq., and the Department of Revenue Rules that interpret and implement the Code. Basically, the marijuana business must both produce the marijuana and sell the marijuana at its own retail establishment. It remains unclear whether the businesses will be able to transact with each other, how inventory will be permitted and regulated and how many plants may be cultivated by each business. Marijuana product manufacturing will also be permitted, as with medical marijuana. The law surrounding Medical & Retail Marijuana is very complex and it is necessary to protect your investment and yourself.

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