February 20, 2013
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The Colorado task force in charge of setting up regulations for the state’s legal marijuana has decided to let tourists in on the weed, the Associated Press reports. Lawmakers, law enforcement and marijuana policy activists on the task force assembled and agreed Tuesday that Amendment 64 legalizes marijuana for all adults at least 21 years old, and does not exclude out-of-state visitors.
Members of the task force were concerned whether allowing tourists to purchase marijuana would encourage or discourage illicit sale. "Imposing a residency requirement would almost certainly create a black market for recreational marijuana in the state," task force member Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat, said at the meeting.
Regulators agreed that marijuana tourists should be warned via billboards and airport signs not to take Colorado marijuana home, and that an undetermined limit of sale should be established for non-residents.
If lawmakers agree with the task force recommendation, tourists will be free to get stoned in Colorado. Still, whether they, or anyone else in the state can do so in public is up for a more heated debate.
Task force members were less successful agreeing to recommendations on marijuana growing and public use. Colorado's marijuana law allows home growing but requires plants to be in a locked, secure location out of public view. The task force couldn't agree whether a "locked" and "secure" location would mean a backyard surrounded by a fence, or whether an enclosure such as a shed or greenhouse should be mandatory.
Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, whom the AP called “one of the task force's most vocal marijuana critics,” expressed concern that a chain-link fence would not be sufficient in keeping kids out of a backyard pot garden. Prominent marijuana policy activist Meg Sanders disagreed, and said requiring coverings like greenhouses would be unfair.
"I think it goes too far in restricting what people can do on their own private property," Sanders said at the meeting.
According to the AP, Jackson and like-minded members of the task force also want to ban marijuana use on publicly visible patios, porches and backyards.
"So I can drink a beer on my porch? But I can't smoke a joint?" marijuana advocate Christian Sederberg chided at the meeting.
State Sen. Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge) also warned against regulating the use of a legal substance on private property, asking, "What about backyard grills that send the smell of hamburgers into the nose of a neighbor who's vegetarian?"
"I don't know how far we want to go telling people what they can't do on their own porches," she said at the meeting.
The task force created by Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has a February 28 deadline for marijuana regulation recommendations, which the state legislature and Department of Revenue (which oversees gambling and alcohol) will ultimately decide.
In the meantime, residents and visitors can learn more about their rights to legal weed in Washington and Colorado here