Colorado Caps Medical Plant Count to Cut Down on Illegal Grows

Colorado Caps Medical Plant Count to Cut Down on Illegal Grows

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© Stock Pot Images / Christine Caldwell

The Colorado state legislature just took a step closer to capping the number of cannabis plants medical marijuana patients can grow within their property or residence. It’s a move that’s upsetting to many who are fighting for marijuana patients’ rights.

It was last week, when the House of Representatives in Colorado gave their preliminary approval for the measure to bring the plant count from 99 down to 16.

The new measure places a 16-plant count limit for medical plants growing at residential properties. If approved, marijuana patients who were prescribed cannabis can no longer grow more than 16 at home. Instead, they would be forced to move them to industrial or agricultural areas.

An opponent of the measure, Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, (D-Commerce City) says it’s a problem for many as a lot of patients are on fixed incomes. “They are ill,” the lawmaker continues, and many cannot afford the cost to their health – and wallets – to shop at dispensaries for their medicine.

Their illnesses leave them dependent on their personal allowance of plants at home.

Rep. Benavidez adds it’ll hurt the ill because only “cartels have the money to go rent warehouses.”

Currently, having a 99 plant limit places Colorado as the nation’s most generous when it comes to the marijuana allowance for medical patients growing their own plants.

Supporters of the bill say the measure would crack down on illegal home grows. It would make it harder to grow cannabis outside the taxed and regulated commercial pot system. This issue of illegal cannabis growing operations in residential properties has reared its ugly head in many of the suburbs surrounding the city of Denver.

The lack of oversight on the medical home grows have caused problems for local and state law enforcement.

Technically, it’s a patient’s medicine, and in accordance with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (also known as HIPPA ) caretakers and growers can usually refuse to give information to law enforcement, which stops any investigation before it can begin.

Supporters of the bill believe the new measure could curb illegal home grows flying under the radar. Rep. KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat and sponsor of the bill, says, “We need to close this loophole.”

“The time has come for us … to give law enforcement the guidance they need,” says Rep. Cole Wist, a Centennial Republican and another bill sponsor.

At first, the bill limited the plant count to only twelve. The amendment now leaves the cap at 16 plants.

Important to note is that Colorado has the legalization protected within the parameters of their Constitution. As it is written within the Colorado state Constitution, residents have the right to grow as much as their doctor recommends.

If approved, the limit would force patients to take any number of plants over 16 to an area ‘deemed industrial or agricultural.’

It’s been widely noted that the original 99 plant count for the Centennial state stems from prior visit from the Drug Enforcement Agency. It’s been rumored that one of the officials, when asked what they would deem worthy of investigation, said anything under 100 wouldn’t be on the DEA’s radar.

In the end, enough Democrats joined the Republicans in voting for a preliminary pass for the bill last week.

According to the AP, the bill faces one more formal vote next week before heading to the Senate, where its prospects are strong.

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