It’ been a year since the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington, and other states are watching how they have implemented policies including the rules governing how pot will be grown, and how Colorado and Washington have decided to sell and tax its use.
A blueprint for recreational marijuana use in other states
Time U.S.A. reported that California may be the next state considering adopting recreational marijuana use laws. According to reports, “The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a new panel to draft a possible 2016 ballot measure to legalize pot in the Golden State, where an earlier attempt failed in 2010.”
The panel will first study the laws of both Colorado and Washington to determine if their model can be modified for California. But California may not be the only one considering such a move. Other countries have also expressed interest in policies similar to Washington and Colorado including Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Canada and the United Kingdom.
What are the recreational marijuana use laws in Colorado and Washington?
Washington and Colorado have very similar recreational marijuana use laws with regards to regulating and taxing the sale of pot, requiring rigid security and third-party laboratory testing, prohibiting sale to anyone younger than 21 years of age, tracking the marijuana closely from “seed-to-sale,” and prohibiting out-of-state investment.
But that is where the similarity ends or recreational marijuana use. Washington has also decided to tax each part of the pot production including producer to processor, processor to retailer and retailer to customer. The tax is currently 25%. Colorado, however, it just now debating whether to implement a 15% excise tax and 10% sales tax.
What does the legislature have to consider? According to Sam Kamin, a professor at the University of Denver, there is an optimum price point which must be found. According to Kamin, “We want this to be self-funding regulation that is robust, but we don’t want the price of legal marijuana so much higher than the black market that it becomes attractive again.”
Other recreational marijuana use requirements which have been imposed include a maximum or cap on the amount of marijuana which can be produced. While Washington has imposed a cap, Colorado has not. The goal of the cap is to eliminate the exportation of legal pot to other states, which is a big concern for federal authorities and for other states which have not legalized the drug. Opponents of the cap argue that limiting the legal market enriches the illegal market.
Vertical integration and the recreational marijuana use industry
The states also differ on whether or not licensed pot dealers must be involved in each step of the process- growing, processing and selling- a term called vertical integration. Colorado requires vertical integration, Washington does not. Colorado, however, is going to modify their requirements later this year. Each state has also implemented minimum residency requirements. For instance, Colorado has a stringent two-year minimum-residency requirement for any owner or investor, while Washington has only a three-month requirement.
How long will it take to devise a policy for California? Experts say it should be done by 2016, more than enough time to review the implications of legalized drug use on other states.
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