With the signing of Colorado's new groundbreaking marijuana laws a new green rush is underway in the Centennial State and Motherboard's new documentary "High Country" takes a close look the rapidly growing and high-tech marijuana industry that is turning Colorado into "the Silicon Valley of weed." Watch part one above and scroll down for part two.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed several historic measures to implement marijuana legalization in the state just last week, establishing Colorado as the world's first legal, regulated and taxed marijuana market for adults.
Colorado adults, 21 and over, will be limited to purchasing up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use from specialty licensed retail shops that can also sell pot-related items such as pipes and accessories. Coloradans can also grow up to six plants -- with only three flowering at a given time -- in their home for personal use. Adults can possess up to an ounce of marijuana legally.
HB-1317 and SB-283 requires that retailers properly label all marijuana products including warning labels, serving size and information on THC potency. Only Colorado residents can own or invest in the stores, KDVR reports, and when the first stores open around Jan. 1, 2014, for the first nine months, only existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be able apply for the recreational sales license.
According to The Denver Post, the first recreational marijuana stores to open would only be able to sell the marijuana that they have grown themselves, but come October 2014, that restriction would be lifted so stand-alone growers and retailers could open up for business.
HB-1317 also bans cities from opening pot shops and bans marijuana collectives that could skirt the new marijuana regulatory laws by growing and providing pot to members tax-free and below cost.
The bill also requires stores to treat marijuana magazines like pornography by placing them behind the counter. A measure that has already garnered two lawsuits -- one from marijuana magazines and another from booksellers -- who say it is a violation of the First Amendment.
House Bill 1318, outlines the taxes related to the legal marijuana market, proposing a 15 percent excise tax and 10 percent sales tax. However, due to Colorado's Taxpayers' Bill of Rights which requires that Coloradans vote on any tax increase, state voters will still need to weigh in on the tax question in the 2014 election.
Amendment 64 states that the first $40 million raised from the 15 percent excise tax would go to to school construction. And although many voters who supported A64 did so because it could raise money for schools, lawmakers are concerned that even fans of that excise tax rate and the use of its revenue could be turned off by a total tax rate of 25 percent, not including additional state and local taxes that could lead to marijuana taxes exceeding 30 percent in some areas.
According to a recent survey from Public Policy Polling, 77 percent of Colorado voters support the 15 percent excise tax -- which Amendment 64 calls for and which is earmarked for public school construction -- as well as an additional 10 percent sales tax to cover the cost of regulating recreational marijuana sales. Only 18 percent of those surveyed were opposed to increased taxes on legal pot sales. The survey of 900 registered Colorado voters was conducted by Public Policy Polling from April 15-16.
Hickenlooper has expressed support for the tax measure. "I'll certainly promote the marijuana question," Hickenlooper said to The Denver Post. "We need to make sure we have the resources to have a good regulatory framework to manage this."
Senate Bill 24 proposes the development of a regulatory framework for the commercial cultivation, processing, and distribution of industrial hemp.
Recently in Springfield, Colo. hemp farmer Ryan Loflin planted the nation's first major industrial hemp crop in almost 60 years.
House Bill 1325, a controversial measure which sets a THC-blood limit for Colorado motorists at 5 nanograms.
Under HB 1325, drivers caught with 5 nanograms of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana which produces the "high" sensation, in their blood would be considered too stoned to drive and could be ticketed similarly to a person who was considered too drunk to drive.
And just this week Denver City Council voted 10-1 in favor of pursuing recreational marijuana sales in Mile High City. It should come as no surprise since Amendment 64 passed overwhelmingly in Denver with 66 percent voting for the recreational marijuana legalization measure and the city remains the capital of the medical marijuana industry in the state, but each municipality can choose to opt in or out of marijuana sales so it is still seen as a critical step forward for marijuana reform advocates in the state's capital.
Motherboard's incredibly in-depth documentary dives deep into the marijuana culture, industry, history of use to the low-footprint grow and extraction technologies to the fast-growing dab scene to the medicinal science behind marijuana and tackles a lot of the questions that still remain about a legal, adult marijuana market in Colorado. And read Brian Anderson's excellent full report (part one and part two) accompanying the documentary at Motherboard.