Marijuana Legal Officially in CO; Not Federally

marijuana legalAs of yesterday, the state of Colorado made marijuana legal for recreational use. Here are some things you need to know if those cravings kick in.

Buyers must be 21 or older to buy marijuana legally in Colorado. That is not surprising; alcohol has the same age restriction. What is, perhaps, surprising is that residents can buy an ounce, while out-of-state visitors can buy up to a quarter ounce.

As expected, since it was the major selling point of the legislation, marijuana is now one of the most heavily taxed and regulated goods in the state…and “regulation” means paperwork; paperwork means records.

It is important to note that while marijuana is legal in the state; it is still illegal federally. Federal law supersedes state law, which means, for all intents and purposes, marijuana is still illegal.

This raises some issues.

While President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder claim they will not prosecute for marijuana, the Feds are still raiding marijuana related businesses as recently as a month ago under “suspicion” of working with cartels. Additionally, laws last longer than terms in office. What happens to the users and businesses if the next president and/or attorney general are not amenable to a state law that flies in the face of long-held federal policy at which billions (if not trillions) of dollars have already been spent to eradicate?

There is another major catch. If out-of-state visitors can buy legal marijuana in Colorado, what happens when their visit ends and they still have some left? Ultimately, there will be some who try to bring it across state lines, which means those who get caught will be committing a federal crime. If it is a federal crime, that means no time off for good behavior, which means many will be quick to do whatever they can to lessen their sentences, which usually means testifying against the supplier.

In that case, the supplier is now a supposedly legal business.

How are those businesses going to defend themselves? For all intents and purposes, because there are so few licensed businesses selling marijuana, once enough people get caught crossing state lines, claiming they got it from the same place, it starts to appear that this may be intentional trafficking.

You are innocent until proven guilty, but when the business model is based around selling a substance that is illegal everywhere else and the crime falls under federal jurisdiction, all evidence points to the business committing a crime.

Then, there is the issue of sourcing the marijuana. With few licenses and strict quotas to be met, where are businesses going to get their supply when the licensed sources are unable to deliver because of the demand? Exhausted supplies are expected almost immediately.

With detailed records being kept and the health of a business at stake, it is not hard to imagine some stores giving in to the temptation of buying unlicensed marijuana to keep their doors open. You know, just this one time…

Marijuana Legal: Yes or No?

So, what do you think? Is marijuana legal, or is it inviting disaster to users and businesses? Let us know in the comments!

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