Hashtag: Narco-tourism

There may soon be signs at Grand Junction Regional Airport and along Interstate 70 near the Utah border telling visitors to Colorado they may legally acquire and smoke marijuana while in our state, but they can’t take it with them when they leave.

Right. Out-of-state visitors who come here to obtain and smoke pot will dutifully hand over whatever is left of their stashes before they head home. If you believe that, we’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

The signs are among the recommendations issued this week by the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, the group created last year after Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

The task force has until the end of this month to prepare recommendations for the Colorado Legislature, which must then craft rules to regulate recreational marijuana.

The task force was understandably struggling with some of the consequences of Amendment 64. For example: Should we allow out-of-state visitors to come to Colorado to buy and use pot — essentially authorizing a legal marijuana tourism industry for the state — or should legal marijuana be available only to adult Colorado residents?

The task force made a sensible decision when it opted to allow out-of-staters to legally partake of recreational marijuana. The alternative, as task force members noted, would almost certainly create a black market for pot in Colorado being sold to people from other states.

Amendment 64 allows Coloradans to legally purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but the task force recommendation for out-of-state visitors would limit them to smaller purchases, probably one-eighth ounce per purchase.

That also is reasonable. It would make it more difficult for people to acquire large amounts of marijuana and attempt to take home with them whatever they don’t consume while they’re in Colorado.

Exactly where they will obtain legal marijuana remains somewhat unclear. Amendment 64 authorizes the establishment of marijuana retail outlets, and the task force has been developing proposed regulations for them. Among those recommendations is that busineses already operating as medical marijuana dispensaries should have the opportunity to easily convert to retail outlets for recreational marijuana.

However, a number of cities and counties around the state have already announced plans to prohibit retail outlets for marijuana, as is their right under Amendment 64.

The amendment also allows people to grow up to six marijuana plants for their own use and to give — but not sell — up to an ounce of pot to friends. But the task force this week couldn’t agree on whether that provision in the amendment authorizes growing marijuana outdoors in appropriately fenced gardens, or if all growing must occur in enclosed buildings.

Coming to grips with what voters approve last November will require more difficult decisions. For instance: What should the signs at airports and along highways at state borders say? “Leave your Rocky Mountain high in Colorado”?


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