Colorado lawmakers look set to dramatically decrease the number of marijuana plants that can be homegrown.
Colorado could soon see a dramatic decrease in the number of marijuana plants people are allowed to grow in their homes. According to the International Business Times, a bill that would limit the number of home-grown marijuana plants to just 16 for both medical and recreational users recently passed a key House committee. While the bill has yet to become law and may even see some significant changes before being voted on, it does have bipartisan support. If passed, it would signal a significant change in the state's drug laws, especially at a time when the federal government has indicated it may take steps to reign in states like Colorado that have legalized marijuana in recent years.
Proposed new limit on home-grown plants
Currently, those who grow marijuana for medicinal purposes can grow up to 99 plants in their homes. As the Colorado Springs Gazette points out, some cities, including Denver and Colorado Springs, have already introduced local limits that are far lower than that amount. Nonetheless, critics of the statewide 99-plant limit say it encourages organized crime in residential areas.
As a result, House Bill 1220 was introduced to drastically reduce the maximum number of plants people can grow in their homes. If passed, the bill would limit both medical and recreational marijuana users to just 16 plants. A first violation of the proposed law would result in a misdemeanor, while any subsequent violation would be a felony. That bill was recently passed by the House Finance Committee by an 11-2 vote with bipartisan support. It now goes to the floor to be further debated and potentially voted on.
Support and opposition
While the bill is being supported by lawmakers from both parties who worry that the current 99-plant limit is too high, it has been met with stiff opposition by groups advocating for the rights of medical marijuana patients. Those groups argue that larger plant numbers are necessary because producing concentrates and edibles requires more plants. They worry that a dramatic decrease to the limit on home-grown plants will make it much harder for patients to access medical marijuana.
The bill also comes at a time when there is a great deal of uncertainty concerning the future of legalized marijuana across the United States. Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic at the federal level. While efforts by Colorado and a number of other states to legalize marijuana have largely been tolerated by the federal government until now, federal officials have recently indicated that they may begin more strongly enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized it. No concrete proposals have yet been made, however, about what form increased enforcement would take.
While Colorado may have a reputation for liberal drug laws, as the above article shows the situation is constantly evolving and quite uncertain. Anybody who has been charged with a drugs offense needs to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney immediately. A conviction may result in imprisonment, fines, and a criminal record. An attorney can help clients defend their rights and possibly mitigate the damage caused by a criminal charge.