Before legal cannabis sales begin in early 2014, rules and regulations must be established for Colorado’s Amendment 64. In advance of approaching deadlines, the state Department of Revenue released a 100-page document containing rule changes and clarifications for the state’s medical marijuana law, as well as regulations for the legal pot industry.
However, the rules are not official just yet as the public will have an opportunity to weigh in during a series of hearings this week (August 20-22).
The guidelines for legal cannabis consumption leave little to the imagination, as the document defines many terms for the cannabis industry, including nomenclature such as “edible medical marijuana-infused product,” “immature plant,” and even “container” – which is described as being the “sealed package in which medical marijuana … is placed for sale to a patient and that has been labeled.”
The recommended rules also require steep fees. If approved, the regulations would require up to a $5,000 application fee to open a legal pot business. And that’s just to apply. If approved, operating licenses could cost an additional $2,750 to $14,000.
According to state officials, the hefty fees are needed to pay for the costs of running the budding industry. Last year, the Department of Revenue ran out of cash to pay for Colorado’s unique seed-to-sale tracking system, which tracks every pot plant in the state up until the point of sale.
The draft rules require all applicants for recreational outlets to be fingerprinted and background-checked, in order to root out “recent drug felons,” or those with ties to “criminal drug cartels.” The screening process is also intended to eliminate applicants from out of state.
In Denver, the City Council gave initial approval for placing a 3.5 percent retail pot sales tax on the November ballot. That tax could eventually be raised to 15 percent or completely eliminated if necessary.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock supported beginning with a 5 percent sales tax. However, the council settled at 3.5 percent, stating that 5 percent could lose in November.
The final vote to decide the legal pot sales tax to be put before Denver voters will take place next Monday.