New Laws Chart Course for Marijuana Legalization

How Colorado and Washington State govern their legal pot markets will be a test case for the rest of the U.S.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Ted S. Warren / AP

Jake Dimmock, co-owner of the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical-marijuana dispensary, works with flowering plants in a grow room in Seattle on Nov. 7, 2012

Correction appended, Oct. 21

Nearly a year after Colorado and Washington State voted to become the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the detailed rules governing how pot will be grown, sold and taxed are finally complete. And as the two states implement their different approaches to getting high, the whole world is watching.

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a new panel, headed by California Lieut. Governor Gavin Newsom, to draft a possible 2016 ballot measure to legalize pot in the Golden State, where an earlier attempt failed in 2010. The panel will study the implementation of Washington and Colorado’s laws to see how they might serve as a model for California, according to member and ACLU attorney Alison Holcomb. Lawmakers and academics from Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Canada and the U.K. have also expressed interest in learning from the states’ experiences.

Think of it as an A/B test for legal pot. While Colorado and Washington’s laws are based on a similar model — they both tax and tightly regulate legal markets for marijuana, require rigid security and third-party laboratory testing, limit sale to people over 21 and the amount an adult can carry, prohibit out-of-state investment, and track marijuana closely from “seed-to-sale” — there are important differences between the two approaches.

Washington has imposed a heavy 25% tax on each of the three parts of pot production: producer to processor, processor to retailer and retailer to customer. Regulators say that will put the price of marijuana pretax at an average of $12 a gram, a price that the ACLU’s Holcomb says is competitive with illicit pot on the street. Colorado votes on its pot tax — a less onerous 15% excise tax and 10% sales tax — next month. Sam Kamin, a professor at the University of Denver who advised Colorado on its regulations and who will also be serving on the ACLU’s panel to devise a plan for California, says finding the “sweet spot” for taxation is key. “We want this to be self-funding regulation that is robust, but we don’t want the price of legal marijuana so much higher than the black market that it becomes attractive again.”

Unlike Colorado, Washington has imposed a cap on the total amount of marijuana that can be produced per year in the state. On the advice of UCLA professor Mark Kleiman, dubbed the “hemperor” because of his deep involvement in marijuana policy, regulators at the Liquor Control Board decided to cap the legal market at 80 metric tons — 40 for usable marijuana and 40 for other marijuana products. The chief rationale behind limiting annual production is to avoid “diversion” — when surplus legal pot is illegally smuggled to other states — says Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Diversion is a major concern of federal authorities, and while Colorado has not imposed a cap, regulators say they might do so in the future if it is necessary.

Representatives from the marijuana industry differ on the merits of a cap. Stephen DeAngelo, president of the Arc View investment group, which focuses on marijuana investments, says caps are necessary because if there is too much marijuana flooding the system, retailers fight to keep prices down, which incentivizes them to cut corners on quality and safety measures like lab testing. Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, disagrees. “By limiting the legal market, they are enriching the illegal market,” Smith says.

Colorado and Washington will also license pot businesses differently. For the first few months of the new market, Colorado requires “vertical integration,” which means that every marijuana business must be involved in all parts of the business — growing, processing, and selling — to get a license. Barbara Brohl, the state’s regulator says they did this because they thought it would initially limit the number of businesses, making it easier to control the new market. Starting this summer, Colorado will open the market to those interested in specialized roles. By contrast, Washington prohibits “vertical integration” and instead only permits businesses to get licensed in one stage of production: growing, processing or selling. Washington’s intent, says Smith, the spokesman for Washington’s Liquor Control Board, was to avoid allowing monopolists to keep prices artificially high.

Washington’s regulations aren’t stricter on all fronts. Colorado has a stringent two-year minimum-residency requirement for any owner or investor, while Washington has only a three-month requirement. These rules essentially prohibit out-of-state investment in the growth and production of marijuana (though they don’t bar investment in ancillary businesses like, say, a phone app that offers a map of different providers). One reason for this, regulators and experts say, is to reassure the federal government that illegal drug money from across the country and around the world is not entering their legal marijuana markets. DeAngelo, who opposes the restrictions, says they might also stem from a fear of competition from growers in other states, particularly in Colorado where medical-marijuana growers have already gained a foothold in the industry.

Kamin is hopeful that the evidence that comes out of Colorado and Washington will be able to help California devise its own plan for a regulated marijuana market by 2016. “We’ll have good data on what happens in Washington and Colorodo by then,” he says.

A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Colorado’s marijuana regulator. It is Barbara Brohl. TIME regrets the error.

139 comments
UpMoot
UpMoot

It will be interesting to follow the transition and 2015 licensing deadline of the currently legal medial cannabis dispensaries.


http://maryrain.com - Seattle dispensaries

June_theMonth
June_theMonth

One thing missing here is how the two states will view pot. One will essentially treat it as a product, creating a commercial market alongside the medicinal one. In the other, they will essentially let the medicinal dispensaries "switch signs". 


http://the2x2project.org/otc-maryjane/

FrankMSmith
FrankMSmith

3 plants to flower,oh yeah sounds like a way 4 the state to make $$ ..im tired of seeing trhis plant raped by pot clubs & the state..

dr.ph6sferrous
dr.ph6sferrous

The Washington Liquor Control Board ganj laws are the best I've seen, but they are very problematic. The projections of how the legal market will go appear to be based on inaccurate views on how the blackmarket grow ops work. Apparently, large, leafy plants (like people smoked in the sixties) will have the "flowers" (they mean buds, obv. Flowers are nice, but aren't produced in smoking ganj) picked and sent to a processor for less than 1500USD/lb., who will dry, clip, separate seeds and stems, and make products from extracts.... it gets weirder from there. Specific cannabinoid profiles for medical use aren't mentioned in the law, but the state will pinch SEVEN GRAMS off of any grower any time for quality control testing at an independent lab. I think the state expects big tax dollars to come from huge joints of Shake-n-Bake and no competition from the blackmarket (which will have around a tenth of the operating costs). Small ops are limited to 2000sq. feet of canopy, which is HUGE. There will be big misunderstandings with modern growers offering bricks of keef from a tiny indo closet crop. Hilarity will ensue. I hope all the honest and hardworking closetcroppers of our great state can overcome the obstacles and offer high quality ganj to all the children of the world. Here's to overtaking the best growers of B.C., Holland, and Northern CA. :D


RyanBalentine
RyanBalentine

i have been reading your comments and a lot of you seem to assume that you have to be a Democrat to be for legalization which is not true. im not for democrat and i do not smoke marijuana. but i am still for the legalization both recreational and medicinal.

aaronzimm86
aaronzimm86

I think it the choice for an adult to destroy their liver, with a man made drug called alcohol. I think there are to many adults make this drug a part of their everyday life. There have deaths and overdoses with alcohol. There have been no adults that have been sent to the hospital or any adults who have died from marijuana alone. Marijuana is all natural and have many medical purposes. Also a relaxation purpose like alcohol but without the dying part. I think America is turning around in a good way with the legalization of marijuana. I think the legalization of marijuana, could save America's money sitsituation. By excise taxing marijuana. I wish 100% legalization in all State's!

gino
gino

Life in USA is going to the dogs when hear that some 18 (I am not sure) US states have endorsed use of the leafy marajuana for recreational purposes. All this means anyone in these states can buy any amount of these leaves and can get 'high' any time. Is this not a shame to our people? When we want to raise our children drug free and intelligent, how does this help? How does security work when someone leaves one of these states and travels to other US state where it is not allowed? Does TSA not control its traffic? This is all absurd. For the gain of the few of those who like to smoke pot, we have turned that into profit making machinery of those states, but in the end we will pay for it as a society.

rob6308
rob6308

All weed dos is make you have boobs and small nuts if your gay then you should smoke bcs no chicks are gonna wanna date some one with a small sack !!!

tgm404
tgm404

Left out of the article, is the fact that in Colorado individuals can grow their own legally, they don't have to buy it.

StephenWaller
StephenWaller

I do not smoke pot but hey it should be your choice not some drunk coke sniffing congressman or senator that makes that choice. If it is going to be banned then all people that vote nay on it should be tested like the rest of us.

BenjaminA.J.Redpath
BenjaminA.J.Redpath

Herbs of all sorts are used everyday, this one happens to be an obstruction to Capitalism™.

i.e.

1ºBeer is from hops. Very similar to Cannabis.

2ºYour mother's spice cupboard.

3ºMany medicines and poisons alike are derived from various herbal extracts. Morphine, MDMA, etc.

4ºRead 'The Emperor wears no Clothes'

Credulous at best is your desire to believe in angels in the hearts of men.

Pull your head on out your hippie haze, shouldn't have to say it all again.


RichardAcosta
RichardAcosta

OK.... Here is the research and if you guys want pass it along.  You can go to SC Laboratories and look up their research and the findings are extraordinary!!!  The second most compound in Marijuana is cannabidiol also known as CBD's.  There are a lot of medical benefits and its because of CBD's.  CBD's have strong anti-inflammatory properties and helps the body not produce the chemical that causes inflammation.  It has anti-convulsion properties and reduces seizures in patients.  They have done studies in which they give the patient an over doses of THC and then counter with CBD's.  CBD's had a adverse effect of turning around the effects of THC without changing the levels of THC in your body.  You can never OVERDOSE on marijuana.  Oh, an over dose of THC is anxiety!!! lol... The research continues to explain that CBD's also makes CANCER cells commit suicide and preserve the good cells!!! Yepper!!!  The one I love the most is that CBD's help protects the brain against BRAIN DAMAGE!!!  Meaning if you get a concussion start treatment with CBD's it will help protect the neurons from the damage done to the brain.  CBD's is also non intoxicating meaning you can't get high on CBD's.  Hey NFL, NCAA and all you big-wiggs.  You need to change your policy to help our players with concussions!!!  I know a few team that could use CBD's for players that have concussion.  Pass it along!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31SrjjgPbhU

ushemp
ushemp

The Prohibition of Marijuana was not some stupid mistake to be corrected. The Prohibition of Marijuana was a vicious and deadly crime against humanity that caused suffering, death, crime and chaos. Legalization will not remove this dirty stain on the U.S. Governments War on Hemp and Humanity. These Drug War Politicians and Propagandists  must be held accountable for the damage they have done to our Nation and the World.

Patriot60
Patriot60

Wow. You clowns are really addicted to your dope. Try Marijuana Anonymous and become a member of the human race.

Good luck, potheads.


MichaelL.WallaceJr.
MichaelL.WallaceJr.

Eating Raw Unheated Marijuana Prevents Cancer Cell Growth. The Absence of Cannabis from the Human Diet due to Prohibition has brought about the many Horrific Disease & illnesses we face today. In 1974 Marijuana was found to reverse Cancer Cell Growth at the Medical College of Virginia in a study funded by the National Institute of Health. our Government used patented Synthetic THC for Medical Purposes while insisting Natural THC in Marijuana has NO Medicinal Purposes.

eduardo73
eduardo73

If somebody disagrees with something I say on this board, just hit the "reply" button and debate me, straight-up. Flagging things you simply disagree with is the cowards method of silencing others.

Patriot60
Patriot60

Just what we need, a nation full of stoners. And people wonder why we've fallen so far, so fast. Good news, though, I'm sure for all the fake "patients" with their headaches and hangnails. 

Historicus
Historicus

Here's an A/B test for legal pot:


A: The law is the law.


B: According to US law, we have "certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

A: The Controlled Substances Act schedules marijuana as having no accepted, safe medical use in the United States. 

B: The United States Department of Health and Human Services applied for United States Patent No. 6,630,507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” in 1999, it was awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2003.

A: Cannabis is a food generally recognized as safe.

B: Food and drugs are generally untaxed.

A: Perjury remains in the Congressional Record as testimony leading up to cannabis' legal status, and material, exculpatory evidence is routinely suppressed in court cases across the country.

B: Perjury and the suppression of exculpatory evidence are felonies. 

A:  Millions have been falsely arrested, trillions of dollars spent and scores of thousands were killed in illegal wars.

B: Drug war IS crime.



mdabrams
mdabrams

@gino Please lay off the pot! You sound very uneducated and your sentences are too jumbled to even make out what you are saying.

KarlaClippinger
KarlaClippinger

@gino You do not make any sense! First of all, it is only legal in 2 states (WA & CO) for recreational use. And we can't just have any amount that we want, there are laws, rules, regulations in place. Pot doesn't kill you, it cures you. You can also use cannabis that has NO THC in it to get you high and still get the benefits for health issues and pain. 

I am 51 years old and I only started using cannabis 3 years ago when i could not stand the pain in my head any longer! I have had migraines since I was 22 with NO relief!! The cannabis was my only choice because they would not give me anything for them and they would always try to give me a medication that not only didn't help, but made me very sick and I couldn't take it. No tests, nothing for all those years of horrid migraines! 

Then about 3 years ago I started getting these attacks that would come on instantly (no warning) and then go away just as quickly. It was like a bolt of lightening hitting me in the back of my head and encase my whole brain, and then go away, about 15 seconds of HELL. The pain is off the scale when I get them. I got a new Dr and reported to her about the attacks and she immediately had an MRI done. I had 2 of them and they found a tumor in my brain. A slow growing, non-cancerous tumor in my pituitary gland. Right exactly where those blots of lightening hit! Finally, some gave a crap and did their job.

Now I continue to use cannabis, I prefer the oil form by mouth, but I mostly smoke it because it is cheaper that way. It helps the migraines, which I rarely get any more, but the attacks I still have, just not as often as before. I don't drink alcohol because it killed my mother, my grandfather and now is killing my husband. It is a slow and in the end, a painful death. Alcohol kills brain cells and causes dementia, I see it happening to my husband who is 54 next month. Marijuana does NOT do that to your brain and body..So give me a damn break with your holier than thou attitude and BS that you obviously have no clue what you are talking about.

KarlaClippinger
KarlaClippinger

@tgm404 WA as well... 15 plants per person (you can also grow for other patients). But you can only grow it if you are a medicinal user... It is legal to use it for recreational, but those people cannot grow, buy or sell.. That part is just dumb..

LesPaulMarshall
LesPaulMarshall

@BenjaminA.J.Redpath  I saw a Botany Professor say that without all the preconceived BS surrounding MJ. If the plant was first discovered today, it would be considered a huge discovery.

lucyonmytongue
lucyonmytongue

 Marijuana is the only thing that has helped me overcome and learn to control my extreme anxiety and unbearable ADD. No prescription drug has ever had a positive affect on me. After I gave up on drugs and started smoking marijuana a year ago, I am more apart of, and involved in, the human race than I've ever been before.

working my butt off in construction to make honest money and my free time is spent in downtown ministries for the homeless. I've got goals and ambitions that I'm working hard toward, for the first time in my life, and I smoke lots of great weed with lots of great friends, and I feel F*cking great.

I think It's small minded to lump all "Pot Heads" together, and pretty much imply that marijuana is a negative thing. In my experience its one of the most positive things in my life next God. So I would encourage you to open up and do some research and see for yourself that there is so much good that Cannabis is being used for. 

Take care!

JohnThomas
JohnThomas

@Patriot60  No.  We are like Professor Julian Heicklen.  He never consumed, or cared, about marijuana, but when he retired in 1998, he decided the most important thing he could do was to lead marijuana smoke-outs at the Gates of Penn State every Thursday, for more than a year.

Of course, he was arrested various times.  When asked why he was doing this, he said:


"Marijuana is the messenger, not the message.  The issue is whether we will live in freedom or in tyranny!"

kblombergh@gmail.com
kblombergh@gmail.com

@Patriot60 Get your crayons and your coloring book and go find a quiet corner and color me a really nice picture honey....because you don't even have a clue about the benefits of this....immaturity doesn't become you, sweetie....just remember pot was legal in the 30's and booze was illegal...become a member of the human race? Really!?  I think you should try....Dumbass Anonymous....and join the real human race.;)...to know a clown is to be a clown. Do you do partys...have a few friends that really need a clown for there daughters birthday party.....interest? you would fit right in with them...don't forget your crayons and coloring book.

HarryLouisSteinrock
HarryLouisSteinrock

@Patriot60 you do know most smokers get out of bed in the morning, go to work, come home, take care of the kids, feed, bath an so forth, then they break out the weed, fill a bowl, or roll a joint, smoke, then relax on the couch with the kids an watch some tv. then they go to  bed and sleep. they wake up the next morning and do the same thing. very few smokers spend ALL DAY smoking.

eduardo73
eduardo73

@Patriot60 

REAL patriots love freedom; only the imposters advocate for the police-state. 

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@Patriot60  

except that you don't need to be a "patient" anymore since it's completely legal in those states. and get your head out of your a*s. you act like weed is the same as meth. i'm not sure how, in your warped little mind, 2 states out of 50 constitutes "a nation full of stoners" (wait, it doesn't, but i guess we can't all have a brain in our head), but it's freaking weed. get over it. it's safer than tobacco, booze, fast food, and driving a car. if ignorance is bliss, you must be the happiest person on this site

Patriot60
Patriot60

@Historicus So says our armchair lawyer. Or will we be seeing you with bong in hand, arguing your case before the Supreme Court? LOL. 

tgm404
tgm404

@KarlaClippinger @tgm404 it could be worse, Canada just gave a monopoly to one company for the entire country's MMJ. And the company only grows 3 strains, which aren't even popular. Talk about corruption!

LesPaulMarshall
LesPaulMarshall

@HarryLouisSteinrock @Patriot60 Yes, I find parents like a little medicine in the evening to relax after a hard days work. Because they are much more alert in the case of an accident, than if they drank. We are in CA, so we've made sense here for a long time. Patriot has turned into a dirty word. That's what all the tea party people think they are, but in reality, they're puppets for Koch. The vote against their own best interests because the guy in the WH is Black. How stupid can you get?

Patriot60
Patriot60

@#libtardedamerica @Patriot60 The focus of the article was on how to move forward on national legalization, which of course would further erode our nation. The article pointed to various aspects of the laws implemented in Colorado and Washington as examples of what could be adopted and what should be avoided.  You should read it instead of jumping straight to the comments. You stoners get so emotional over your precious dope. 

eduardo73
eduardo73

@Patriot60 

Do wish to present an actual argument on this very serious topic. Or are you just trolling here to "LOL"?

rob6308
rob6308

@Mikespr420  hahahaha that's so funny if I smoked a joint right now it would have been the best response back !!!

kblombergh@gmail.com
kblombergh@gmail.com

@Mikespr420 Thanks Mike... I really like your comment. Over half the population in America is for legalizing pot. I belong on the commitee to legalize CBC here in Utah,it has no thc,....it stops seizures that so many children in this nation have to suffer with.  Then there's those who need the thc, my daughter had a tumor 14 yrs. ago. She was in bed with pain 20 days out of the month. I introduce her to Cannabis....she actually has a normal life now...she's not down in bed any more. Oh...and i'm sure Mr. Patriot watches Fox news...we just have to tolorate these type of people, Mike. Thanks sweetie ;)


JohnThomas
JohnThomas

@Patriot60 @#libtardedamerica  Thanks for the anti-thinking demonstration.  That's a classic.  Just substitute moronic catch-phrases (like "legalization will erode our nation") instead of rational arguments.  -  That's the equivalent of shouting with your fingers stuck in your ears.

Good job.


Mikespr420
Mikespr420

@Patriot60 @#libtardedamerica Haha, All of your comments on this site are full of hate and ignorance. Not to mention that most of them start with "I remember".... Well guess what grandpa, your time is over. The America you thought you knew is long LONG gone so why don't you step aside and let us young people make the changes? I'm sure if you actually took the time to read the studies and testimonials regarding Cannabis you'd change your mind. Oh and let me guess. I bet you're a fan of Fox news!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,107 other followers