CO: Attorney General Backs Reducing Pot Penalties, Taxing Medical Cannabis Sales

Denver, CO: State Attorney General John Suthers has endorsed recommendations made by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice that seek to substantially reduce state penalties prohibiting the possession of marijuana for personal use.

Suthers told the Denver Post that he believes that legislators should “move forward” with the Commission’s recommendations, which call for amending state law so that the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana would be classified as a petty offense.

Under present law, marijuana possession offenses involving up to one ounce or less are categorized as a petty offense, punishable by a $100 fine. Offenses involving larger amounts of cannabis (up to eight ounces) are classified as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in jail. Possession of more than eight ounces of cannabis is classified as a felony, punishable by up to three years in jail.

The Commission further recommended that pot possession offenses involving over four ounces of cannabis, but less than 16 ounces, be classified as a misdemeanor.

“Marijuana penalties should be reduced,” Suthers affirmed. The Commission voted 13 to 1 in favor of the amended penalties.

In a separate action last week, Suthers issued an opinion stating that the state can legally collect taxes on the retail sales of medical cannabis. Suther’s statements were in response to an inquiry by Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the state’s medical dispensaries will be subject to a 3.62 percent city sales tax starting on December 1.

State lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation in January that seeks to impose statewide and local excise taxes on marijuana production and sales.

To date, only California collects state taxes on the retail sale of medical cannabis.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.