On Nov. 2, 2012, Colorado made history alongside Washington, when the majority voted in favor of Amendment 64, legalizing the recreational use of cannabis.
Amendment 64 legalizes possession, consumption, and cultivation of up to six plants for adults 21 years of age and older, and set in place the outline for the regulation of retail cannabis stores. The amendment also sets aside the first 24 Million dollars in Tax revenue from those stores for schools and education.
Governor John Hickenlooper then signed the bill into law on Dec. 10, 2012, officially enacting the amendment and effectively changing Colorado's legal stance on cannabis.
All other laws regarding cannabis remain in place. Like alcohol, it is still illegal to consume cannabis in public and to drive under the influence.
Also, the sale or purchase of recreational cannabis remains illegal, so growing your own, giving away for free or sharing is the only legal option until recreational centers become legally operational in 2014.
Medical marijuana centers and patients are unaffected by Amendment 64, which are already regulated by the state and subject to strict laws. Medical marijuana patients receive additional protections and benefits not given to recreational users, such as tax exemptions for indigent patients and much lower pricing, as medical marijuana will not be subject to the 15 percent tax that will be imposed on recreational sales of cannabis. Medical marijuana patients who already purchase cannabis through a medical center will more than likely continue to do so even after recreational stores open.
Amendment 64 also sets guidelines for the State and Local municipalities to set up regulations and licensing requirements for retail cannabis stores during the year of 2013. Once the city completes this task, steps can then be made through local and state licensing, to open recreational stores in 2014 that distribute recreational cannabis.
The question before Craig now is this – should we allow a recreational marijuana store to open in town?
It is my opinion, that yes, we should. The law is set up to give owners and individuals who have been through the medical marijuana application process first consideration in the opening of retail marijuana stores.
As the owner of the only medical marijuana center in Craig, I will have the first opportunity to open a retail store, which I will do if given the chance. I will also run that store in the same respectful, professional manner in which I have ran Craig Apothecary for the past three years.
My medical marijuana centers and their cultivation location have been inspected several times by the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, and I am proud to say that we passed with flying colors each and every time.
Craig and its city council should be aware that the Steamboat Springs city council has given every indication that they will allow retail cannabis stores to open in Steamboat, so the real question I see is this – Do we really want to give the residents of Craig and the surrounding areas yet another reason to drive to Steamboat to spend their money?
Craig deserves its own piece of those tax revenues. Craig needs the tourism and jobs that recreational cannabis sales will bring to town. There is no doubt in my mind that the benefits will be many.
People may just start choosing marijuana over alcohol. And as my medical cannabis center has proven over the last three years, the social impact on the community will be little, if any.
It’s time for Craig to make the safer choice — listen to the will of the voters and allow recreational marijuana stores in Craig.