Guest article from: LeafBuyer 10-04-14

Washington and Colorado Pot Legalization – Main Differences

Washington joined Colorado earlier this year in beginning retail sales of legal marijuana. After the vote to legalize took place, regulators in both states spent nearly a year planning and rolling out the guidelines for the new industry. As expected, there are many significant differences between the laws in the two states, and some of which could have an impact on how you can or can’t use legal weed. We’ve put together this summary post to explain some of the differences that could affect you.

  1. Home Growing

Home growing of cannabis has been legalized in Colorado, but it still remains illegal in Washington. Regulators in Washington believe that home grows will increase the size of the black market, while Colorado lawmakers believed just the opposite. Colorado patients can grow up to 6 plants per person or 12 per household.

  1. Local Restrictions

Colorado law allows local municipalities (such as Lakewood and Colorado Springs) to opt out of retail marijuana sales in their towns. This means that it is still illegal for shops to sell weed to customers without medical cards in many Colorado jurisdictions. Washington, on the other hand, does not allow for local municipalities to ban legal sales.

      3. Vertical Integration

Colorado initially set up its medical marijuana industry so that cannabis business must produce at least 70% of the weed they grow. This created an interesting dynamic for pot entrepreneurs, who were required to handle both production and distribution of their product. Until October 1, 2014, this rule also applied to retail cannabis businesses in the state. This differs from the Washington market, which keeps distinct separation between producers, manufacturers, and retailers.

  1. Medical Industries

In Colorado, it was possible for medical marijuana companies (some of which have been around for nearly a decade) to convert into the recreational market. This meant that the already established and robust industry could transition into the new retail market, and is what many credit as the main reason for Colorado’s amazingly smooth transition into retail cannabis sales. Washington, on the other hand, did not allow for this transition for medical businesses. The medical industry still remains vastly unregulated in Washington, and it is currently unknown what will happen to many of these businesses. It is certain, however, that Washington has seen severe hiccups in the transition into the retail market. The few shops that were able to open thus far have been struggling to keep up with supply, which has forced pricing through the roof. In time, the supply issue should begin to resolve, but it will be after much tension and some significant struggles between producers and retailers.

  1. Security

Colorado retail shops are currently allowed by law to have armed security guards on the premises if desired. Nearly all retail shops hire armed security due to the primarily cash-only nature of the industry, which lead a host of break-ins and robberies over the years in the medical marijuana industry. Washington, on the other hand, does not allow for armed security guards in dispensaries.


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