Marijuana: Governor John Hickenlooper signs six pot bills that "are charting new territory"
Earlier today, Governor John Hickenlooper made his mark on six marijuana bills, pushing retail sale of recreational pot closer to becoming a reality and putting at least a temporary end to quandaries that occupied the legislature throughout much of the just-concluded session.
"Clearly, we are charting new territory," Hickenlooper said at the event. "Other states haven't been through this process in the same way we have. Recreational marijuana is really a completely new entity."
One of the biggest issues the bills tackled is taxation. With voter approval, House Bill 13-1318 will create a 30 percent tax on marijuana -- a 15 percent excise tax and a 15 percent sales tax.
This wasn't the only tax issue settled by the measures. Another bill will allow those who work in the legal marijuana industry to write off business expenses for state income tax -- something dispensary owners and others in the industry were unable to do previously, since marijuana remains federally illegal.
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The infamous DUI pot bill, which returned to the legislature for the third consecutive year, also found its way beneath Hickenlooper's pen. The law sets an intoxication standard at five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood -- but the law allows individuals to dispute in court a finding that they were under the influence.
The bills also contain a lot of what Hickenlooper described as "common sense laws." For instance, underage cannabis use will now be penalized in a manner similar to underage drinking. Likewise, marijuana won't be allowed at day-care centers and pot has been added to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.
In addition, guidelines were set to give current dispensary owners and Colorado residents an edge. A three-month moratorium was put in place for those applying for a license who aren't currently licensed under medical laws, and only Colorado residents can work or own a business in the industry.
"After I sign these today, and if we pass the tax revenues in the fall, we will have a good legal foundation established," Hickenlooper said.
If the tax revenues are passed, retail sale should begin January 1.
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