— By Bente Birkeland. Colorado is ramping up efforts to try and prevent marijuana from being diverted to the black market. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two bi-partisan bills into law Thursday. “I think we’re protecting neighborhoods from the violence often associated with organized crime,” said Hickenlooper. “We’re no longer the Wild West. I don’t think it’s good for Colorado to have the loosest laws.”
The goal is to crack down on large-scale, non-commercial marijuana grows. State law had allowed medical marijuana patients to grow up to 99 plants if a physician agreed. Recreational users could also have other people grow their plants. Under one of the new laws, people are limited to 12 plants per residence unless a local government approves more. Another new law says only caregivers can grow plants for other people. It also sets up a grant program to reimburse police for enforcing and prosecuting crimes involving marijuana intended for the black market. About $6 million is set aside for the grants and rural areas will get priority for receiving them. Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.