By now, it’s common knowledge that marijuana has been legalized in Colorado not only for medicinal purposes but for recreational use as well. Last year’s passing of Amendment 64 marked the state as being one of the first in the country to implement laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use on a state level, which has polarized people on both sides of the argument.
Now, it appears that Colorado may be taking a hint from Amsterdam to become the first state in the country to look towards marijuana tourism.
Last week, the state’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force made recommendations that Colorado allow visitors to the state to buy marijuana once state-licensed “pot stores” begin to open up starting next year. This recommendation was made to the Colorado General Assembly and didn’t come without an acknowledgement that opening up marijuana tourism to visitors could potentially cause scrutiny on both a federal level and with neighboring states.
The task force went on to convey, however, that proper labeling and education (ie: reminding visitors that they cannot leave the state with marijuana in-hand) could curtail any potential issues that could come out of such a decision.
The task force was set up after the passing of Amendment 64 in order to offer recommendations for regulation of the drug in Colorado. Made up primarily of lawmakers/law enforcement officials and proponents of marijuana, the group has based its recommendation for pot tourism on the grounds that Amendment 64 states all individuals over the age of 21 in Colorado can legally use the drug, not just residents, according to The Colordoan.
If the recommendation is agreed upon, visitors would be allowed the same access to the drug as residents while they are within state borders.
The task force has what many consider to be good reasoning behind its recommendation for marijuana tourism. For one, it would help to inject capital into the state’s economy. Already a destination for skiers and outdoor enthusiasts, Colorado could quickly become the go-to state for those who wish to smoke marijuana without fear of persecution.
The group also argues that banning visitors from purchasing the drug will do nothing more than create a black market, effectively working against many of the reasons behind why the amendment was passed in the first place.
If the recommendation is indeed to be accepted, however, visitors would likely have a different set of restrictions imposed on them than Colorado residents. According to Fox News, a cap could be implemented on the amount of marijuana that visitors could purchase, restricting transactions to as little as an eighth of an ounce.
Caps and other restrictions would serve to ensure that the marijuana purchased in Colorado stays in Colorado, cutting down on the potential backlash that could result from visitors leaving state borders with the drug in their possession.
In discussing other ways in which the drug could be kept within state borders, the task force has made recommendations for public signage at airports and other major transportation hubs clearly stating that marijuana would not be allowed to leave the state.
Some argue that this is not enough, however, and that opening up the state to marijuana tourism would do nothing more than create a black market in neighboring states. The fact that the use of marijuana is still illegal on a federal level makes things even more tricky for members of the task force pushing for this recommendation to be accepted.
While the task force remains optimistic about their recommendations for marijuana tourism, the group has been less than successful with other recommendations that they’ve made. A call for allowing public use of marijuana has been met with plenty of controversy, as well as one to allow backyard growing of the drug. As it stands, marijuana can only be grown in locations that are locked and out of view.
It’s too early to tell whether or not Colorado will truly become the “American Amsterdam.” Already a major forerunner for advocacy of the drug, however, it’s fair to assume that the possibility certainly exists.
The task force has up until Thursday, February 28th to make recommendations regarding the use of the drug; state legislature and the Department of Revenue will ultimately make the final decisions.