DENVER - Colorado's governor has signed a series of bills to regulate and tax legal marijuana and create what he called a "robust regulatory environment."
Gov. John Hickenlooper held a Tuesday morning signing ceremony for six measures related to Amendment 64, passed by voters last year. Amendment 64 allows adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. It also would allow people to grow as many as six marijuana plants in private, secure areas.
The new laws passed by lawmakers will:
- Dictate how marijuana should be grown, packaged and sold.
- Ask voters to approve taxing pot at at least 25 percent.
- Create a new limit for driving under the influence of marijuana, similar to the blood alcohol limit.
- Address tax issues for marijuana businesses, allowing them to claim certain business deductions at the state level even though their businesses violate federal law.
Hickenlooper said it was a priority to create a regulatory system that could fund itself and provide education to children, when use of the drug could have an impact on developing brains.
"There are a number of top medical researchers and scientists who think that repeated use of this high-potency marijuana could cost people a portion of their long-term memory for life. I think that is sufficient to make people very cautious, and willing to make sure our kids understand what they're getting in to," the governor said.
He went on to say that while the taxation was important for supporting the system, that need had to be balanced so that it wouldn't foster the growth of a black market.
In addition to signing the bills, Hickenlooper called for the voters to approve the taxation measure this November. It would apply a 15 percent excise tax, to be used for school construction, and a 10 percent special state sales tax, to pay for regulation and enforcement. That's in addition to the 2.9 percent state sales tax and any local taxes added by the county/city where the marijuana is sold.