6 Ways Colorado Will Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
(Alternet) Colorado took a major step toward implementing a legal system for dispensing recreational marijuana, as Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed into law on Tuesday several pieces of legislation on the licensing, cultivation, and taxing of marijuana. The ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana passed by voters last November immediately eliminated criminal punishment for possession by those 21-and-over of less than an ounce of pot and for growing up to six plants. But a legal system for dispensing cannabis will not take effect until producers and dispensaries can be licensed. And although Hickenlooper opposed the ballot initiative, his signature signals his willingness to implement the will of the voters. The laws passed Tuesday set up a state licensing authority that will set more specific rules for the marijuana industry, and enable the law to fulfill its stated purpose of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol to minimize criminal activity while protecting public health. Here are six of the ways it achieves that:
1. Marijuana dispensaries will have time, place, and number restrictions.The law authorizes local “time and place” restrictions on marijuana dispensaries and limits on the number of dispensaries, which will likely take the form of zoning laws. Statewide, it prohibits marijuana businesses from siting within 1,000 feet of schools, drug treatment facilities, or child care facilities, mirroring similar restrictions in many state marijuana laws. Also particularly noteworthy is that the law permits local jurisdictions to not only implement their own independent licensing schemes, but also to entirely ban retail marijuana establishments, a move that has been controversial and subject to court challenge in other states.
2. Colorado limits who may obtain a marijuana license. Among thoseprohibited from obtaining a license are all sorts of law enforcement officers, those with a criminal history that indicates “he or she is not of good moral character,” and anyone who plans to site a marijuana business in a food establishment.