Pot Tourists Would Be Able to Buy Four Times More Marijuana Under New Bill

Under Colorado retail marijuana rules, state residents and folks who live elsewhere aren't treated equally.

Those with a Colorado ID can buy up to an ounce of cannabis per transaction, while pot tourists are limited to a quarter-ounce.

But that would change under a provision in a larger bill that's largely gone unnoticed until recently.

The title of House Bill 16-1261, on view below in its entirety, certainly doesn't make it seem as if it has anything to do with marijuana tourism.


Likewise, its summary gives nary a hint about a tourism-related passage. It reads:
Sunset Process — House Finance Committee. The bill implements the following recommendations from the sunset report for the retail marijuana program:

Extending the retail marijuana code until September 1, 2019;

Stating that regulation of labeling, packaging, and testing is a matter of statewide concern; and

Repealing the following provisions from the retail marijuana code:

• The requirement that a licensee post a surety bond as condition of licensure;
• The requirement that the executive director deny a license based on a previous denial at the same location;
• The proscription on the placement and sale of marijuana-themed magazines; and
• The authority to promulgate rules prohibiting misrepresentation and unfair practices.

The bill creates 2 new retail marijuana licenses — a retail marijuana transport license and a retail marijuana operator license — and gives the state licensing authority rulemaking authority over those licenses. The bill conforms language in the retail marijuana code to language in the medical marijuana code related to mandatory testing, the confidentiality of licensee information, and limited access areas.
So where's the language about out-of-state marijuana purchases? At the bottom of page ten and the top of page eleven in a thirteen-page document, under the category "Retail marijuana store license — definitions."

The bill crosses out a line that delineates a person "who has a valid identification card showing that the person is a resident of the state of Colorado" and the entire paragraph about those without such an ID, as seen in the following screen capture.

The restrictions placed on out of staters were originally put in place to discourage people from purchasing marijuana and taking it beyond Colorado's borders

This issue continues to incense border states such as Oklahoma and Nebraska, which are still seeking a way to kill Amendment 64, the 2012 measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, even though the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit over the matter earlier this year.

However, sponsors clearly believe that the difference between a quarter-ounce and an ounce is small enough not to exacerbate the situation — and as a bonus, the elimination of the restriction would undoubtedly generate more tax revenue for the state.

Even so, there's no guarantee the bill will emerge with all of its current language intact. While it's passed the Democratic-controlled Colorado House of Representatives, it's still awaiting action in the Republican-majority Senate.

Look below to see a Fox31 report on the legislation, followed by the bill itself.

House Bill 16-1261

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts