Although marijuana became legal in the state of Colorado, marijuana trafficking is not legal.
Recently, more than 60 people were charged with illegally growing and distributing more than 4,000 pounds of marijuana within the state of Colorado and across state lines.
The Denver Police Department responded to a complaint that eventually led them to uncover one of the biggest drug busts in Colorado by leading them to unlicensed marijuana growers in warehouses and residences throughout the Denver Metro area. The operation was called “Operation Toker Poker.”
The defendants would disguise themselves as medical marijuana caregivers who legally distributed medical marijuana. However the defendants committed other illegal acts such as illegally growing marijuana and selling thousands of pounds across state lines in states that recreational marijuana was illegal.
The defendants also committed crimes such as illegal marijuana distribution, money laundering, tax evasion, and even theft.
WHAT IS MARIJUANA TRAFFICKING?
Marijuana trafficking means transporting or moving large amounts of marijuana across state or international lines. Although recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, Colorado law states that legally produced marijuana becomes illegal once it crosses state borders. Failure to comply with Colorado medical or recreational marijuana laws can result in harsh drug charges. In addition, a person cannot sell marijuana within the state without a license.
In this case, many of the defendants were in on the operation of illegally growing marijuana without a license and trafficking marijuana across state lines. The defendants are accused of operating a massive illegal interstate marijuana distribution and cultivation arrangement that laundered millions of dollars.
The operation operated across the Front Range as well as in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Ohio and Oklahoma, states where possession of recreational marijuana is not legal. Authorities say growers in Colorado are using loopholes in Colorado’s legal marijuana system to harvest marijuana designed for illegal export mainly because they tempted by the high prices that Colorado’s marijuana has on the black market.
HOW CAN YOU GROWN WITHOUT VIOLATING THE LAW?
In states similar to Colorado, where recreational possession and growing of marijuana is legal, there are certain limits and regulations set in place.
In Colorado, a person over the age of 21 can grow up to 6 plants per person in their home for personal use with as many as 3 plants flowering at one time. No more than 12 total plants are allowed per residence regardless of the number of adults living there. Growing anything over 6 plants per person or 12 plants per household would result in a felony. Marijuana plants must also be kept in a roofed locked area that can’t be viewed by the public. In addition, homegrown marijuana cannot be sold to the public and must remain for personal use.
Age is also a very important factor on who can grow marijuana legally within the state. Adults aged 21 years old and older can legally grow weed in Colorado. If you are not 21, you must be a caregiver or be a medical marijuana patient. Penalties for marijuana growers under the age of 21 can be very harsh depending on the amount of the marijuana being grown within the household and whether there was intent to distribute or sell the marijuana without a license.
CAN I TRANSPORT MARIJUANA OUTSIDE THE STATE?
Trafficking or transporting marijuana outside or across the state lines of Colorado is a very serious federal and state criminal offense.
The only individuals that are authorized to transport marijuana or marijuana products are those licensed by the State Licensing Authority and Denver Excise & Licenses. In other states, the legal consequences of transporting marijuana vary from state to state since there are many states where any possession or recreational use of marijuana is illegal and transportation of the drug will also be illegal in that state.
However, for the states that have made marijuana legal, the laws related to transportation of marijuana out of the state depend on whether the transportation is for business or personal use. For example, in Colorado, any person who transfers one ounce or less of marijuana will not be punished if he or she is at least 21 years old and did not receive money for the transfer.
THE LAW IS CHANGING, BUT YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL
Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, back in 2012. But, it doesn’t mean that marijuana can grow and pass through Colorado freely. While it does mean Colorado residents can use and even grow marijuana in their home, there are limits to legalization.
In the end, the laws regarding marijuana are constantly changing, from year to year states are slowly decriminalizing marijuana use, possession, and growth. However, until there is a change in stance from the federal government (which currently views marijuana as a Schedule I Narcotic), marijuana users and growers should continue to exercise caution.
"LegalMatch is a lawyer-client matching service that offers a platform for those with legal issues to find the right attorney for their needs. Our system matches consumers to a LegalMatch lawyer in their area, based on the specifics of the consumer's case and the lawyer's area of practice. Unlike other legal referral services, LegalMatch believes that you know best when it comes to choosing the right lawyer for your needs. We will never try to pick the lawyer for you, but instead will arm you with the information you need to make the right decision based on your needs. We know you want to find the right lawyer, so LegalMatch is here to help."