In a post published earlier today about a forthcoming proposal to ban marijuana smoking on private property within a thousand feet of schools, Denver councilwoman Susan Shepherd predicted future efforts to allow smoking at private clubs.
Turns out this very subject is near the top of fourteen legislative priorities just announced by the advocacy organization NORML of Colorado. Get more details and see the complete list below.
As our William Breathes reported this past January, pot clubs and cannabis cafes began cropping up in the wake of Amendment 64's passage and began drawing crowds. But Denver mayor Michael Hancock called for a ban on such clubs in his city, with plenty of other municipalities taking a similar approach.
In Denver, councilwoman Shepherd expects push-back over the club prohibition. As she told us earlier today, "there's going to be a conflict with people who wish to consume but don't have a private space to do it -- like tourists. We know that people are going to come here from other states to consume, and where they're going to consume legally is a big question."
The best way to answer that question, in the view of Colorado's branch of NORML, is legislation at the state level. The affiliate plans to work on behalf of laws that would "explicitly allow for social clubs where marijuana consumers can use marijuana in a responsible manner outside of the home."
Colorado NORML also calls for legislation that would prevent communities from enacting rules that would prevent individuals from smoking marijuana on their front porches or front lawns. Such a measure was initially approved by Denver City Council, only to be reversed at the last minute thanks to a political coalition put together by Shepherd.
In its list of priorities, Colorado NORML says such a law should "define public use to exclude consumption on one's own property, either residential or commercial property, including outside in places open to public view. This protection should also extend friends and invitees on people's property who are authorized by the owner to use marijuana on that property."
NORML of Colorado divides its priorities into categories focused on public use/in-home cultivation, the criminal code, marijuana business regulation, employment and taxes. In the last case, NORML would like to see the creation of a board that could lower taxes on marijuana should the amount collected by the state far exceed costs and money earmarked for school construction, among other things. As you'll recall, the local NORML board opposed Amendment AA, a measure approved by voters last month, under the theory that the tax rates were much too high.
Colorado NORML release:
14 State Legislative Priorities for Colorado NORML in 2014 Session
Denver, CO -- The Colorado Chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) announces its priorities for legislative change in the 2014 session of the Colorado General Assembly:
Public Use/In-home Cultivation
1. Define public use to exclude consumption on one's own property, either residential or commercial property, including outside in places open to public view. This protection should also extend friends and invitees on people's property who are authorized by the owner to use marijuana on that property.
2. Prohibit local governments from limiting plant counts in homes. Each adult in Colorado has the right to grow 6 marijuana plants. If 4 adults live in a house, they should be able to grow 24 plants. Any attempt by local governments to infringe on these rights is unconstitutional.
3. Explicitly allow for social clubs where marijuana consumers can use marijuana in a responsible manner outside of the home.
4. Modify the Colorado criminal code to conform with Amendment 64 so that display of marijuana is no longer a crime. State statutes still criminalize display, while the Constitution allows it.
5. Modify the criminal law to reduce the severity of minor overages of the limits in Amendment 64. Currently, if an adult possesses more than 12 ounces of marijuana or more than 6 plants over the legal limit of 6 plant, then the person is committing a felony. NORML recommends that marijuana not become a felony matter until a person has more than 30 plants over the limit or more than 5 pounds over the possession limit, these matters should remain misdemeanors. In addition, Amendment 64 allows for the lawful possession of the entire amount harvested from an adults home cultivation and NORML opposes any attempts to limit the amount legally kept on hand following a harvest. Similarly, the Legislature should explicitly make legal the entire resulting harvest for medical marijuana patients of all of their legal plants.
6. Allow marijuana use on probation as it is legal under state law. Last year, a Colorado Court of Appeals decision made it illegal for any probationer to use marijuana, even in medical marijuana circumstances. This rule forces people to use addictive and harmful prescription narcotic drugs. At a minimum, medical marijuana patients should be exempt from this rule and recreational users should not be prohibited as a blanket rule from using marijuana because it is legal under Colorado law.
7. NORML objects to any attempt to define a "drug endangered child: to include parents growing in a home where children are not exposed, consistent with the requirements under Amendment 64 that grows occur in locked and enclosed spaces. Parents should not be criminalized for any activity that is legal under Amendment 64.
8. Repeal the 5 ng/ml DUID-marijuana standard. This standard is based on incomplete science and it is unfair to chronic users and medical marijuana patients who will likely test over that limit many hours after use when they are no longer impaired.
Marijuana Business Regulation
9. Modify the rules for medical marijuana employees, allowing individuals with drug felonies to be eligible to apply to work at a medical marijuana dispensary. The Legislature made this change for recreational marijuana last year, but failed to extend the change to the medical system. These two systems should be harmonized to allow individuals with old convictions to get a fresh start and work in the industry.
10. Harmonize the rules for medical and recreational marijuana by removing the requirement for "vertical integration" in the medical marijuana system. Vertical integration artificially limits the options of entrepreneurs and harms consumers by limiting production and choice. Similarly, vertically integrated companies, either medical or recreational, should not be limited by the 70/30 rule which inhibits a true free market.
11. Modify the rules for medical marijuana so that the number of plants a dispensary may grow is no longer tied directly to patients who designate that dispensary. This creates record keeping problems and the number of patients that designates a dispensary is not necessarily reflective of the demand for that dispensary. Both medical and recreational retail marijuana should merely have a tiered permitting system to allow companies to grow specific quantities of marijuana based on their permit limit. This system will ensure more competition and lower prices for consumers.
12. Modify the residency rules for ownership of medical or recreational retail marijuana businesses. Prohibiting out of state ownership severely restricts investment in these businesses at a time when it is nearly impossible to get normal bank financing because of federal banking issues.
13. Amend the drug testing rules for all state employers and contractors so that marijuana use off the job, without any impairment at work, is not grounds for termination.
14. Create a citizen's oversight board to review the collection and distribution of taxes authorized in Proposition AA. If it appears the taxes are reaping a windfall, the Legislature should lower the 10% special sales tax so that marijuana consumers are not paying excessive taxes.
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