Colorado cannabis cultivation curbs may benefit legal MJ firms

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Colorado lawmakers have passed two measures they believe will curb illicit marijuana cultivation and potentially send more consumers to legal cannabis retailers.

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday prohibiting people in co-ops from growing recreational cannabis for others, the Associated Press reported. The House already had passed the legislation.

The bill now goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper. The governor supports the measure, according to the news service, but it’s unclear when he will sign it.

The AP noted there are no state figures on the number of growing co-ops that might exist. The co-ops allow participants to share costs such as electricity and fertilizer.

Colorado’s constitution permits people 21-older to grow their own cannabis or to help someone else cultivate the plant. The law also permits groups of people to choose one “farmer” to cultivate marijuana plants on their behalf and, thus, enable them to avoid paying jurisdictional cannabis taxes, the AP reported.

But the governor, state lawmakers and law enforcement agencies fear the setup has helped fuel the black market in Colorado – a situation that drains sales from legal retailers.

The bill passed Monday also set aside $6 million a year to help law enforcement officials investigate illegal grow operations.

Meanwhile, Hickenlooper is expected to sign another marijuana bill soon that caps at 12 the number of plants that can be grown in a home, the Associated Press reported.

The governor supports such a restriction because the state’s previous allocation for home growers made it confusing for law enforcement to differentiate between legal and black-market cannabis users.