Colorado's approval of Amendment 64, which legalized the consumption of marijuana last year for those over the age of 21, has created speculation that lawmakers might take the next step and allow state visitors to purchase and consume as well.
An Amendment 64 Task Force was created to handle ongoing regulation of the open consumption and sale parameters. Regulators have noted that Amendment 64 does not exclude open consumption of cannabis by visitors, which has led to the current discussion about how to address pot tourism.
A few of the core concerns from the task force, which is made up of politicians, law enforcement and activists, indicate that formal pot tourism is likely to proceed but not without some limitations.
The full-fledged pot tourism destination of Amsterdam offers an intriguing model to those who see an economic upside. Amsterdam's 700 cannabis cafes have been a draw for decades. However, the Dutch government has never formally issued guidelines, which has led to inconsistencies over the years. Earlier this year they attempted to make it illegal for foreigners to visit cannabis cafes, which would have effectively destroyed Amsterdam's tourism. In late October, that law was scrapped much to the joy of travelers.
Colorado's task force seeks to offer a clearer set of guidelines to state legislators in an effort to avoid pitfalls going forward. Among concerns that were resolved are the following, as reported by Associated Press:
A residency requirement:
"Imposing a residency requirement would almost certainly create a black market for recreational marijuana in the state," said Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat who sits on the task force.Purchasing limits as low as 1/8 ounce to reduce the likelihood of illicit trafficking across state lines:
"Marijuana purchased in Colorado must stay in Colorado," Pabon warned.However, there is still disagreement as to the degree of openness that will be tolerated. Under Amendment 64 people are banned from smoking in public. Task force member, Police Chief John Jackson, believes this should extend even to publicly visible locations such as private patios that can be viewed by neighbors or passers-by.
"We could attract greater federal scrutiny and displeasure of our neighbors," if marijuana flows across state lines, he said.
"So I can drink a beer on my porch? But I can't smoke a joint?" asked marijuana advocate Christian Sederberg.
State Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, said lawmakers would hesitate to regulate something legal people do on private property. "What about backyard grills that send the smell of hamburgers into the nose of a neighbor who's vegetarian?" she asked.
"I don't know how far we want to go telling people what they can't do on their own porches," she said.Then there are the issues of growing, storage, potency and labeling, as well as law enforcement's right to retain marijuana that is seized.
It is evident that Colorado is laying a clear groundwork as a burgeoning destination, but it might be some time before pot tourism will rival its ski slopes as the main attraction, or become a viable alternative to Amersterdam on the world stage. Meanwhile, the state's medical marijuana policy and historically lenient stance toward cannabis is sure to keep tourists interested in the future.
Read the full handout from the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force Meeting below:
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - Handout
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