Colorado to Crack Down on Online Pot Ads, Make Life Easier for Cops

Don't dump your weed on Craigslist, even where selling it is legal.

In Colorado, the retail sale of cannabis is totally legal, if the vendor has the proper licensing. But even in the weed-legal Rocky Mountain state, which approved Amendment 64 in 2012 to grant this freedom, black-market sales of the substance continue to thrive. The online sector of Colorado’s illicit-marijuana trade is fueled in part by advertisements for weed to be sold by-the-pound, placed on Craigslist and other Internet-commerce platforms.

A bill written by Colorado lawmakers hoping to deter the practice, which received unanimous approval from the state senate on Monday, would make such digital marketing of dope a misdemeanor crime.

According to the Associated Press:

“It’s already a crime to sell pot without a license in Colorado, but it’s not illegal to place an advertisement for weed. That means law enforcement has a hard time going after those who skirt the law. . . Like other legal-pot states, Colorado is trying to crack down on the lingering black market for marijuana as it awaits word on how President Donald Trump’s administration will approach states violating federal drug law.”

Online drug deals are going down with an increased frequency all over the world, and Internet-based transactions are part of what moves Colorado’s legal weed across state lines. 

Colorado entrepreneurs working to remain in compliance with state laws must follow an ever-evolving set of rules set by legislation that is continually in-flux. Dispensaries must close by 8 p.m. Cannabis delivery is banned outright. And when it comes to policing marijuana, weed legality has made Colorado cops' workload no lighter. Last year in Denver, the police requested additional resources from the city after running out of storage space for confiscated weed.

'An act is "lawful" only if it complies with both state and federal law.'

On Monday, the state supreme court issued a reversal on a 2013 mandate that required law enforcement to house seized cannabis as personal property, and maintain the health of any confiscated pot plants. If the owner of the weed were to be acquitted, the cops would be compelled to return the green property––an act that Colorado police have long opposed, arguing that performing marijuana husbandry would place them in violation of federal drug laws. 

“Compliance with the return provision necessarily requires law enforcement officers to violate federal law,” the state's highest court wrote, ultimately concluding, “that an act is ‘lawful’ only if it complies with both state and federal law.”

The 2013 ruling came following a 2011 case in which a Colorado medical-marijuana patient accused of cultivating more marijuana plants than legally allowed, had nearly 60 pounds of cannabis product returned to him in moldy, unsellable, and unusable condition. Monday’s reversal decision, written by Justice Allison Eid––who has been named as a potential Trump Supreme Court nominee––permits police officers to destroy any seized marijuana and cannabis plants. 

Another piece of 2016-proposed legislation, sponsored by governor John Hickenlooper, would place stricter limits on the number of plants adults can legally grow at home, capping the number of permitted DIY weed plants at just six. The bill received support from state law-enforcement groups that say it would help them in investigating illegal grow ops, part of the job they have reportedly described as “impossible.”

Colorado's legal-weed regulations are not set in stone. Entrepreneurs and consumers must adapt to an ever-changing landscape, and maybe the police can too?