A young cannabis plant

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is demanding a crackdown on the state’s so-called gray market, calling it a “clear and present danger,” according to a Denver Post report. The governor’s concerns come following a DEA raid in Pueblo West during which 16 pounds of processed cannabis, handguns, and shotguns were seized leading to seven arrests.

“If we don’t stamp it out right now, it becomes acceptable. And then, all of a sudden, people are going to start getting hurt,” the governor said in the report. “If you let crime grow, it will breed on its opportunity.”

In an effort to stem the informal market, the Democrat has asked state legislators to earmark $16 million from the state’s marijuana tax revenues for law enforcement investigation and prosecution for illegal grows. Hickenlooper’s administration is also considering seeking legislation that would tighten home-growing regulations including the number of plants allowed.

“I take this very seriously,” he said. “This is one of the things we worried about in the very beginning. But when we see the evidence, we better respond.”

Under the state’s medical cannabis program, patients and caregivers are permitted to grow up to 99 plants in a residential setting; the adult-use law allows individuals to form cultivating cooperatives, permitting six plants per person.

Rachel Gillette, acting interim executive director for Colorado NORML, is concerned that the regulations could go too far but that growers have a responsibility to act in accordance with the law.

“The bottom line is you can write a bazillion laws, but if people are willing to break them … it doesn’t necessarily help,” she said in the report. “The part of the reason this gray market even exists is because the federal government refuses to acknowledge the medical efficacy of marijuana, as well as continues to follow archaic law pertaining to a drug war that has clearly failed.”

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