Ask a Stoner

Ask a Stoner, 4/20 edition: Pot critic William Breathes answers your cannabis queries

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Unlike the medical marijuana industry, which bans people with prior drug felonies, the recreational industry would not completely shut them out. The proposal being sent to lawmakers would allow drug felons to be licensees as long as ten years have passed since their violation or five years since the legislation is signed, whichever is longer.

Dear Stoner: Enough of the business and politics. What does this mean for me, the consumer?

It is currently legal for anyone 21 or older in Colorado to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or marijuana products, as well as paraphernalia. And, yes, that includes tourists — though they might not be able to buy as much ganja as those with Colorado IDs.

The suggestion now is that out-of-state visitors would be prevented from purchasing more than a quarter-ounce of herb at a time, while residents would be able to buy up to an ounce. But that could change: Some lawmakers are concerned about the illegal resale of legal cannabis and people taking it across state lines to neighboring, less-than-friendly states.

And although carrying up to an ounce in your car would be legal, the committee has suggested that the legislature consider laws similar to open-container liquor laws that allow people to bring home a re-corked bottle of wine.

Dear Stoner: I'm sure the marijuana stores are going to be great for some people — but I would much rather grow my own. Can I just throw a few seeds in my back yard?

While the hot summer sun and cool nights make parts of Colorado perfect for knocking out a few quick-flowering outdoor cannabis plants, the laws probably won't allow for it — not the way you grow sunflowers and tomatoes, at least. Instead, any marijuana plants would have to be grown inside a locked, enclosed space covered on all sides, including the top. Locked greenhouses would be acceptable if your house is zoned for it. And indoor growing would also have to be kept locked and out of sight — though the locks on your front and back door would be enough to qualify. Unless there's someone under 21 living in your house: Then the grow room would have to be locked as well. And if you're renting, the landlord would have the final say on whether you can grow — or even use — marijuana on the property.

When it's time to harvest, you can keep all that you grow and give away up to an ounce at a time to a friend. Home hash-oil makers should take note: The state task force strongly recommended making home extractions using butane and other flammable gases illegal.

Dear Stoner: What is going on with pot-friendly bars? Why am I still getting kicked out of Baghdad Hookah Bar every time I drop a chunk of hash in the pipe?

Committee members voted unanimously to add marijuana to the list of substances banned along with tobacco smoke by the Colorado Clean Air Act. But marijuana smoke likely wouldn't be allowed at existing tobacco bars — including hookah lounges.

While Amendment 64 bans open and public use, the committee agrees that doesn't extend to smoking in open, private spaces like your back yard or a private patio. That position leaves open the possibility that private clubs could be created. But there doesn't seem to be much support for those, with dozens of cities and municipalities such as Parker, Lone Tree, Steamboat Springs, Vail, Broomfield, Greenwood Village, Windsor, Superior and Fort Collins already prohibiting such clubs.

That disappoints activists like Colibri, who believe the expected social component was a major part of why Amendment 64 passed. "Everyone who voted yes, voted yes for a marijuana bar," he says. "'Like alcohol' means like a bar, and they voted yes. We haven't secured that part of the victory yet, but I don't think it's out of reach. We might not get it this session, but we are definitely trying."

For Tvert, allowing places where people can openly consume is a matter of smart public policy. "If someone is from out of town and they are allowed to use marijuana...where do you want them to use it?" he asks. "If they have a hotel here, is the hotel going to allow it? If not, where do you want them to use it? That is the situation in the Netherlands: If you use it on the street, you're going to get in trouble. That is another part of why we should consider it. It's not just 'Let's give people a fun place to go.' It's a public-policy issue."

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes