Colorado marijuana store regulations move closer to becoming law

MarijuanaThe Colorado legislature on Friday moved closer to becoming the first in the nation to pass laws regulating the sale of recreational marijuana in retail stores.

The Senate Finance Committee gave unanimous approval to a bill creating a regulatory structure for commercial pot shops — which would have to be licensed with the state and couldn’t sell anything beyond marijuana or marijuana-related items. The committee later passed a bill on marijuana taxes.

The most significant change the committee made to the regulations bill Friday involved whether the state can set limits on the size of commercial marijuana grows. The bill had said the state must set such limits. The Senate committee amended the bill to say the state can set limits but doesn’t have to.

“It just gives better flexibility to the Department (of Revenue),” explained Sen. Cheri Jahn, a Wheat Ridge Democrat who is one of the sponsors of the bill, House Bill 1317.
Revenue Department director Barbara Brohl said the state will set grow limits but needed some time to figure out how best to do that. Controversial provisions in the bill setting a stoned driving limit and requiring stores initially to grow what they sell remained unchanged.

The bill was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it is still several votes away from passage.

Colorado’s legislature is poised for a frenzy of activity around marijuana in the final five days of its session. Three major bills concerning marijuana, including HB 1317, remain in play.

On Friday, the House gave initial approval to a separate bill on stoned driving. It faces a tougher test in the Senate, which has killed similar proposals four times in the last three years.

The Senate Finance Committee also approved a bill that sets a 15 percent excise tax and a 10 percent special sales tax on recreational marijuana. That bill, House Bill 1318, was also sent to the Appropriations Committee.

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