Thursday, January 2, 2014

Has Colorado Gone to Pot?

So is Marijuana legal in Colorado as of the New Year?

Actually recreational use of Marijuana has been legal in Colorado since Dec. 10, 2012, after Amendment 64 was passed by the voters. What changed on Jan. 1, 2014 is that now certain retail establishments are allowed to sell up to one ounce of Marijuana and other “herbal” products for “recreational” purposes.

Where can I buy weed?

The retail sale of Marijuana is highly regulated. That’s why there was such a long delay since the passing of the amendment and the opening of the stores. That allowed the state to develop rules and regulations.

Colorado legalized the medical use of Marijuana back in 2010. Currently the retail stores selling pot are limited to those that were already certified to sell medicinal weed. New stores will open once they pass the very rigorous licensing requirements, and that probably won’t be for several months … probably not before near the end of the year. The red tape is that long.

So now I can smoke dope in Colorado?

Well, technically you can smoke Marijuana, but the places you can smoke are very limited. You can’t just smoke it outdoors … no smoking in public, no smoking in parks, no smoking at the airport, and no smoking on the ski slopes. You can smoke it at Red Rocks … but that rule (or practice) has existed for about the last fifty years. (The last sentence is a joke folks. It’s also the truth, but you have to see the humor in it. Come to Red Rocks … you’ll get high … on the music or the scenery of just the high mountain air. That I guarantee. The new law won't have changed that at all.)

Can you smoke it at the retail stores?

Definitely not. There is no smoking where the weed is sold. In fact, under Colorado's Clean Indoor Air Act, pot smoking isn't allowed anywhere that cigarette smoking is also banned and there's no cigar bar-style exemption for blunts. That means no smoking in any building, office, mall, bar, or teepee. About the only place you can smoke pot legally is in your own home or apartment (assuming your landlord doesn’t object).

They even considered making it illegal to smoke pot if your neighbor could smell it, but that rule didn’t pass. Meanwhile the great gray area of the law doesn’t say about smoking on the deck, porch, patio, or balcony. Smoking while in the backcountry is only under the jurisdiction of Smokey the Bear and he says only you can prevent wild fires. Seriously, the Feds still frown on any pot smoking in the National Parks and the fine is very, very stiff.

If I only smoke at home, will my employer object?

That’s up to your employer, and plenty of them test new applicants for MJ. So, you might want to keep it on the down-low, and don’t wear any of those funny “Joe the Camel with a bong” T-Shirts at work. However, judging on the stupid way I see people acting in corporations these days, they may already be high. So you should fit right in.

Who can buy Marijuana?

Much like a liquor store, any person over twenty-one can purchase Marijuana. If you live here, you can buy up to one ounce. If you don’t live here, you can still buy up to a quarter ounce.

Can I buy it in Colorado and take it home?

Only if you live in Colorado. You can not drive it out of state, or fly it out of state, or take a train or a bus. You can’t even transport it between two states where it is legal, although that’s pretty much limited to Colorado and Washington at this time. (That’s the state of Washington. We don’t know what they’re smoking in D.C.)

On the other hand, those that have driven north on I-25 and noticed the giant stores selling fireworks just across the border in Wyoming where, apparently, even dynamite is legal for Fourth of July celebrations, I expect you’ll soon see giant stores on the Colorado side of the border. After all, it’s illegal to bring those “Wyoming” fireworks into CO, so …. Just sayin’, not doin’.

Would you? Could you?
In a car?
Eat them! Eat them!
Here they are.

That’s a tough one. The law is very strict against driving stoned. So the driver should not be smoking. Both the law and the science on contact high is unsure, so anyone smoking in a car might end up with everyone in the hoosegow. One problem is reliable testing of Marijuana “intoxication.” If the cop pulls you over and smoke billows out your window, you may be in for a long discussion with the officer.

Can I transport Marijuana in the car?

As long as you’re not smoking it or crossing state lines, MJ in the car is OK.

Can I mail some pot to my family in Omaha?

Only if you want to spend time in a nice federal prison. The mail is intended only for certain things like letters from your aunt Martha and junk mail. Junk mail = OK. Pot mail = 10 years in Federal Prison. I hope I made that clear … oh, and postage rates also went up on the first.

What does this pot cost down at the “high” store?

Plenty. For one thing there’s a 29% state tax plus any local sales and use tax on a recreational Marijuana purchase. Like all good vices, including cigarettes and alcohol, the government takes a big share. That’s why it’s called “organized crime.” Expect to pay upwards of $300 for an ounce of reefer. Smaller amounts are also available along with Marijuana “infused” products like brownies. Weight Watchers will soon be providing the points count for these delicious, mood changing treats.

Of course, all that tax money will be put to good use. A lot of the money goes to schools where additional classes on the evils of drug use will be added. Did you know that currently 32% of Colorado school expulsions are due to Marijuana use? Don’t expect that figure to improve. On the other hand, Pot should bring millions of additional dollars to Colorado. That’s basic economics. Let the Pot Tours begin. After all, we know it is always just about the money.

Will my name go on a big government list if I buy pot?

Trust me, your name is already on a big government list. However, you won’t have to sign to buy your weed. You will get your picture taken as pot stores will have more cameras than a presidential news conference.

Can I just grow my own?

Sure you can, if you have a green thumb and an “enclosed, locked space.” You have to be over twenty-one and you’re limited to six plants. There are a lot of city ordinances including zoning laws, so check with your local government before you buy $10,000 worth of hydroponic equipment.

What about the Feds? Isn’t Marijuana still against federal law?

Yes it is. However, the federal government seems to be content just tapping all our phones and hacking into all our computers, and says it intends to leave potheads alone. That is, if they follow the rules, at least for now. The next U.S. Attorney General may have different rules and they may be adding smoke detectors to the drones.

What are the rules?

Well, they’re unwritten rules, but this seems to be what the eight federal priorities are:

  1. Preventing marijuana distribution to minors;
  2. Preventing money from sales from going to criminal groups;
  3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it is illegal;
  4. Preventing criminal groups from using state laws as cover for trafficking of other illegal drugs;
  5. Preventing violence and the use of illegal firearms;
  6. Preventing drugged driving and marijuana-related public health problems;
  7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands;
  8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

Will legal recreational sale of Marijuana replace medicinal Marijuana sales?

No. For one thing, medical Marijuana won’t have the very high taxes that the fun stuff has. So those with doctor’s prescriptions may choose to continue to buy MJ for what ails them. Plus, the limit for medical use of pot is two ounces and you can even have more if your doctor says so. Ain’t modern medicine wonderful? Oh, and you can get a prescription for medical Marijuana at the age of 18. So “MM” is sort of the 3.2 beer of pot.

What will be the impact of legal Marijuana sales in Colorado?

Well, I expect a big increase in sales at 7-Eleven and a drop in the school test scores. Seriously, Marijuana is a drug. There are plenty of drugs that are legal in our society, but that doesn’t make drugs a good thing. They all have their side effects. Personally, I consider weed a lot less damaging than alcohol or tobacco use, but that doesn’t mean it is safe. But then, apparently, neither is soda pop … both regular and sugar-free. People are gonna do what people do. Legal Marijuana just means that you won’t get busted for pot … unless you’re crossing state lines. It doesn’t mean pot is good for you. But then, neither are doughnuts, but they’re legal.

Now that pot is legal, will you be smoking it Mickey?

In a word, no. For one thing, I don’t do anything that makes my thinking unclear. (Well, maybe a few things.) I’m not against smoking weed, or having a beer or a glass of wine as far as that’s concerned. But those that know me know I don’t imbibe in intoxicants, and MJ is an intoxicant.

That’s just a personal choice. I regard clear thinking and a sound mind above all else … well almost all else. And, I have seen the damage that intoxicants have done to people, families, and society. However, the war on drugs has also caused much damage, and I think it is good that no one is getting busted for taking a few tokes. That’s OK with me. After what I’ve seen on television, both the news and the entertainment channels, I don’t think a little weed will push our society over the edge. When was the last time you heard of someone getting high on MJ and starting a fight?

So is legalized Marijuana the wave of the future?

Yes, I’m sure it is. Society is changing. It is always changing. We’ve tried some things such as prohibition, and it didn’t work out too well. As a society we don’t think that cigarettes are good for you, yet we tax the bejeebies out of them and sell them over the counter. Of course, it's illegal to sell cigs to kids … sure that law is working. Just drive by the local High School. Same goes for alcohol. It causes a lot of damage and death and other really bad things, but the state still gets a cut on every bottle, can, and glass sold. And in Nevada, prostitution is legal. All that just makes the government a pusher.

Same thing with legalized gambling. If I was in the mafia, I’d be suing the government for patent violations or unfair competition or something like that. After all, the government is already running “Murder Incorporated.” If I was organized crime, I’d just close up shop. The big boys are in town and they’re taking over the rackets.

All of these things cause more problems than they solve, but they increase tax revenues, and that’s really all government cares about. Maybe they'll use the money for something good. You can always hope so. That’s the direction society is going. Money is the new green. Better hang onto your hand basket, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. Meanwhile, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

If you consider all that is wrong with the world, getting high on a little Colorado Cocktail isn’t the worst thing at all. John Denver wasn’t referring to just the mountains when he wrote “Rocky Mountain High.” Too bad he isn’t here to enjoy it now that it’s legal … sort of.

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