DENVER – A bill sponsors say is aimed at working to further cripple the black and “gray” marijuana markets in Colorado moved on to the full House Wednesday after it passed the House Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1221, if passed, would change the rules for community recreational growing and would create a grant program aimed at helping rural law enforcement agencies and district attorneys crack down on illegal grows or black-market operations.
Under the bill, only a primary caregiver would be allowed to be in possession of and to grow marijuana for another person. Currently, people are allowed to grow recreational marijuana together so long as they stay within the six-plant limit and other regulatory grow rules.
The other facet of the bill would create a gray and black market marijuana enforcement grant program that is run by the Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Local Government.
Local law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s offices would have to apply for the grant money, and the Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs would pick the agencies and offices who would receive the grants.
The division would prioritize the grants for rural areas of the state. The bill defines “rural areas” as counties with fewer than 200,000 people and towns or cities with less than 30,000 people that is at least 10 miles away from a town or city with more than 50,000 people.
The agencies and offices would then be expected to use the money to bolster efforts to shut down unlicensed grows, investigate and prosecute illegal large-scale grows, investigate and prosecute organized crime operations involving marijuana, and to investigate and prosecute people who grow and distribute pot illegally out of state.
The money for the grants would come from either the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund or the Proposition AA refund account. Under the bill, any money not dispersed through grants that is appropriated can be spent the next year without being re-appropriated.
The bill also mandates that beginning Nov. 1, 2019, the Division of Local Government would have to update to Senate and House committees on the program’s effectiveness. Subsequent updates would be required on or before Nov. 1 of each following year.
House Bill 1221 is one of two House bills their sponsors say aim to cut down on large-scale grows.
House Bill 1220 was referred straight to the House after Monday’s hours-long House Finance Committee hearing on the bill. It would curb the 99-plant per person state limit for medical marijuana grows at 12 – rules already in place in Denver.
1220 is set to be heard on the House floor for the first time Thursday morning.