MMJ references don't always mean that a vanity license plate will be REJECTD

Media outlets have been reporting for months (or longer, in the case of Westword) about how law enforcement officers in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Oklahoma and other Colorado border states are stopping cars with green-and-white license plates more often since the legalization of marijuana here. (One out-of-state cop reportedly referred to our plates as the "green badge of courage.")

In the meantime, Colorado lawmakers have voraciously debated the idea of marijuana DUIs for the past two years. So it seems a little crazy for a motorist to bring even more attention to himself and his vehicle by including pot references in a vanity license plate.

But so far, it hasn't been a problem for Frank Quattrone, the owner of Pure MMJ, which has three locations in the metro area. In a series of very short e-mailed answers, Quattrone says he bought the vanity plates, PUREMMJ, about a year ago but hasn't been pulled over yet. He also says he didn't catch any flak from the state's Division of Motor Vehicles when he applied for the plates.

According to the rules posted on the DMV's website, the state may turn down vanity plates that are "offensive to the general public" or "misleading."

For instance, in 2009, the DMV rejected a request for plates reading ILVTOFU, perhaps because they interpreted that as "I LV TO FU," rather than a simple ode to a vegetarian's favorite meat substitute. That story led to a national media firestorm and a revelation by the DMV that it had a list at that time of 2,744 words or letter combinations that it had banned over the years, including POT.

The agency still keeps a list, and it has grown. Some examples of banned plates: 4HEMP, 4TWENTY, HEMP, PROHEMP, HEMPHI and SMOKPOT. But times have changed -- and since pot is now legal in Colorado, marijuana references may no longer be offensive, at least to some DMV employees.

DMV spokeswoman Daris Serna didn't address the PUREMMJ plate specifically, but she said that references to pot and beer aren't excluded automatically. She also outlined how the department accepts or rejects a proposed vanity plate.

"When a clerk enters a plate, there is a process that is completed that if a clerk thinks it could be potentially offensive to the public, it is sent to a three-person review panel that decides if the plate is offensive.

"If a plate is issued and we receive a complaint that the plate is offensive, once we receive three complaints of an offensive plate, that plate is recalled."

But this isn't the first time Pure has had fun with license plates. On April Fool's Day 2013, the store -- which was then just a dispensary -- published the following fake story on Facebook: "In January 2013, the 69th Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 24-420, creating a specialty Life Doesn't Have to Hurt license plate in Colorado! The Colorado Cannabis Foundation collected and delivered more than 3,000 citizens' signatures to accomplish this effort.

"In order for us to continue producing the plates, 3,000 must be issued before July 1, 2013. Please help us reach this goal by purchasing the plate and sharing this page with your friends. The more license plates in circulation, the better we can raise awareness about the importance of medical marijuana!

"Colorado's Life Doesn't Have to Hurt license plates will become available April 1, 2013. Pick up an application at your local Pure Medical Dispensary. You can purchase the plates at any time; i.e. you do not need to renew your registration in order to buy specialty plates. Life Doesn't Have to Hurt license plates carry a one-time $50 fee in addition to the cost of your regular vehicle registration fee. You do not have to renew your registration to buy the plates, unless it is due at that time. Money generated from the plates will go to the State of Colorado. (From the fee, $25 goes to the Highway Users Tax Fund and $25 goes to the licensing services cash fund.)"

More from our Marijuana archive: "New York Times' Maureen Dowd wants pot edibles stamped with stoned skull and bones?"

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