Colorado’s government has been targeting the state’s black market ever since (and before) legalization. That quietly waged war came to a sharp head last night when a House committee voted 11-2 to limit home grows in residential areas to just 12 plants per home.
The bill still needs to pass the entire House–but when a bill has this majority support, it’s likely to pass that vote too and effectively nix Colorado’s currently liberal home-growing laws. Those caught with over 12 plants in a home would receive a misdemeanor for a first offense–and then a felony.
This bill’s goal is simple: strike down the black market in its tracks and prevent large-scale, “co-op” grows from existing. The issue with this bill is equally simple: the black market doesn’t disappear; it simply adapts, and, in this case, may move to other states.
According to the bill’s backers, Colorado is a criminal hub thanks to our home-growers:
“Colorado home-grow laws position Colorado as an attractive market for criminal operations,” said Rep. Cole Wist, R-Centennial.
“We’re not here to deprive anyone of medicine … our concern is the effect that it has on neighborhoods,” said Fort Collins Police Detective Jim Lenderts. [The Cannabist]
The problem with this reasoning is that the real home-growers really grow this stuff out of love and not greed. Yes, there’s plenty of grows in the state facilitating transport of marijuana to non-legal states–but that’s been happening since well before Colorado was legal. And cartels and weed smugglers already breaking the law don’t stop breaking the law they’ve been breaking for decades.
No, instead, the average home-grower who lives his genetics and loves smoking really dank weed is at serious risk.
Colorado doctors have been able to prescribe plant counts up to 99 plants for medical patients to grow their own cannabis so this likely policy represents a major shift. Yes, cities like Denver (and many others) already have a 12 plant limit, so the bill is as much about semantics as anything else.
These plant counts are in some ways a civil right and in other ways a crutch for home growers not to go to jail and to feel safe. It’s about to be very hard to feel safe growing more than 12 plants in the state of Colorado.