DENVER Colorado is considering allowing only state residents to use marijuana recreationally after voters approved a measure to legalize use of the drug for nonmedical purposes.
A marijuana regulatory group appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper started work Thursday penciling the nitty-gritty details of pot regulation. The group members wont make rules, but theyll recommend to the governor and the Legislature how Colorado should become the nations first to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
One of the topics before one of the working groups is whether there should be some sort of a residency requirement for growing, selling or even using marijuana. Colorado currently has a two-year residency requirement for medical marijuana licenses, a constitutionally questionable requirement thats never been tested in court.
Residency requirements for recreational use are likely to be a divisive topic. Tourism is Colorados No. 2 industry, but some dont want to see the state become a magnet for marijuana tourism. Others say out-of-state visitors shouldnt be subject to different rules from residents.
I think thats going to be a big issue, said Bob Dill, a task force member and Denver attorney who specializes in regulation law.
The regulatory working group did not take a position on the residency requirement.
The working group also is considering whether to allow on-site consumption, or shops that sell marijuana that customers can smoke there. A handful of so-called marijuana clubs already have popped up across Colorado, but so far, the law requires members to bring their own supply.
Colorados on-site consumption regulations would determine whether Amsterdam-style marijuana cafés would be permitted, or whether local governments should decide as they do with alcohol where it is sold and consumed.
Washington state also voted last year to allow pot, but Colorados regulatory framework has a quick timeline. The constitutional amendment requires the state to adopt regulations for marijuana sales by the middle of this year.
A separate working group meeting Thursday was looking at consumer safety, including labeling standards and how to regulate growing operations to ensure commercial marijuana is safe to consume. That group is charged with setting pesticide controls, among other standards.
The working groups must make suggestions to Hickenlooper and the Legislature by the end of February.