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Colorado Makes History: Passes ‘Driving While Stoned’ and Recreational Pot Tax Bills

Colorado is steps away from being the first state legislature to pass laws regulating recreational marijuana. Voters passed the recreational marijuana law (Amendment 64) in November of 2012, but it directed lawmakers to set blood-level limits for driving as well as regulate and tax the sale of recreational marijuana. By passing laws that regulate recreational pot, Colorado is implementing Amendment 64.

Lawmakers gave their final approval for the tax bill on Wednesday, having passed the final approval for the the blood-level limits bill Tuesday. They are currently working on a bill to regulate the sales of recreational pot, which passed the Senate and is currently in the House.

Taking a giant step toward regulating recreational pot, state lawmakers passed House Bill 1318 today, which will impose taxes on recreational marijuana. The Denver Post reports that the taxes will be set at a “15 percent excise tax and a sales tax initially set at 10 percent on recreational marijuana sales.”

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The tax law has been passed, it awaits the voters’ approval this November. Given the passage of Amendment 64, approval seems likely.

A separate bill to set blood-level limits for driving was passed on Tuesday, aka the ‘Driving While Stoned Bill’. According to Yahoo, it sets a 5-nanogram-per-milliliter threshold for tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana. By setting a legal limit for blood levels, lawmakers took a crucial step toward implementing recreational marijuana laws. However, they did ban roaming weed trucks:

Senators also approved a ban on mobile dispensaries, banning the prospect of “pot trucks” able to roam cities dispensing weed like tacos.

“You can’t drive around the city in a bus and call yourself a store,” said Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge.

Lawmakers are currently racing the clock to the end of their legislative session as they hammer out House Bill 1317, which sets rules for the stores selling recreational pot. The measure passed in the Senate and is in the House as of this writing. The bill dictates that the stores must be owned by Colorado residents and licensed by the state. Lawmakers are also looking to limit the initial sales licenses to stores already selling medical marijuana.

Further tweaks might come, as the Colorado House of Representatives has requested direction on regulating recreational pot from the federal government. State House Republican leader Mark Waller said in a statement, “In less than a year, Coloradans will begin buying and selling marijuana, and we need to be sure we implement (the law) in a way that respects the will of voters and clarifies our understanding of both federal and state law.”

Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2001, per a constitutional amendment passed by voters. An additional medical marijuana law passed in 2010 regulates medical marijuana businesses.

Colorado is making history by being the first state in the world to pass laws regulating recreational pot.

For more on marijuana policy, see the Marijuana Policy Project.

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