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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


One of the stories to dominate the local Denver news at the start of the new year was the selling of legalized marijuana. As you recall in November 2012, Colorado voters by a 55-45 result approved the selling, regulation, and taxation of marijuana similar to alcohol. In the early days of my writing back in April 2010, I wrote that I was in favor of exploring the changing of our marijuana laws. I still have never smoked marijuana and probably never will. It is mainly because I am too much of a square to do so. The day that I start smoking pot is the day that it will become "uncool" by all the hip kids.

This will be interesting and could become a trial on how other states relax their marijuana laws and allowing towards decriminalization and eventually the selling of it through legal means. Purchasing marijuana in Colorado comes with some taxes that will go towards a school building fund. There are some conflicts between federal and state laws which at this time appear to have little conflict with each other. Most employers have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drugs such as opiates, narcotics, hallucinogens, and marijuana. Someday in the future there could be a challenge to this policy given that recreational use of marijuana is allowed in Colorado.

It will spark marijuana tourism as marijuana enthusiasts will descend on Colorado this coming 20 April (it falls on a Sunday in 2014).

One thing I must point out is that I did not relocate to Colorado to smoke weed. I will elaborate on the details of my move at a later date of my choosing.

But back to the marijuana tourism point. There are some rules to be aware of. Think Progress pointed out six things that people should be aware of before buying marijuana in Colorado. As a newly established resident, I could buy up to one ounce of marijuana (key word: COULD, but again more than likely won't). However, my friends and family in other states, such as Texas, are limited to a quarter of an ounce.

Even though Rocky Mountain National Park is located in Colorado and is a 90 minute drive from downtown Denver, it is still illegal to smoke it because it is a federal land. Speaking of other laws, Wyoming recently re-emphasized that marijuana is illegal in their state. I can expect highway patrols in other neighboring states such as Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona to be on the lookout for people carrying marijuana in their vehicles. Though Texas does not border Colorado in part due to the panhandle of Oklahoma coming between the two states, the Texas Highway Patrol will be on the lookout given that US-287 goes into Colorado (drove the entire length of US-287 from Fort Worth to Denver back in August 2008, never again).

Speaking of traveling: Don't carry weed with you if you are traveling out of Denver International Airport. That's just asking for trouble.

I know people in Texas that smoke marijuana. If you do come to Colorado, you will not see a marijuana dispensary at Mile Post 1 on I-25. And there really isn't much of anything until you reach Pueblo.

Most of the ten largest cities in Colorado chose to opt out of the law, including Colorado Springs when their city council voted by a 5-4 margin to not participate. Of the 136 dispensaries to receive licenses by the state to sell recreational marijuana, 102 are in Denver. And speaking of licensing, you have to be licensed by the state to grow marijuana AND it is under tight regulatory controls.

While medical marijuana patients will have increased access, there are some medical conditions that will not be covered by the new law. One of the first official patients to purchase marijuana was an Iraq War veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Currently PTSD is not covered under Colorado's medical marijuana law.

Colorado's experimentation with expanding marijuana legalization will be interesting to watch. If this goes over well with little conflict, other states might take up the process to "legalize it."
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