Recreational Marijuana

Recreational marijuana use is legal in Washington state — but only for adults. And after the state's law was tweaked this summer, minors who break that rule risk felony charges. That's the case for three minors in Asotin County, who could now face up to five years in prison.

Imagine a city with hundreds of liquor stores but no bars to drink in. That's the situation for marijuana in Denver.

Pot is legal in Colorado, but the capital city has outlawed pot bars like those in Amsterdam, leaving the tourists who flock to Denver to get high with no legal place to do so. But the city is trying to find a solution.

On a recent Friday afternoon at LoDo Wellness Center, a recreational pot store downtown, budtender Delaney Mason is talking up a Parmesan-scented marijuana strain called Space Queen.

Marijuana Plant

The state of Colorado is having a pot holiday, well sort of, on Wednesday, Sept. 16. It's lifting the 10 percent sales tax people pay on recreational marijuana and the 15 percent excise tax paid by the industry.

This is a result of the voter-approved Tax Payers Bill of Rights, known as TABOR. To help explain how this law works and is applied, KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Richard Collins, a law professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

  • Road closures across Western Slope
  • Montrose Fire District becomes first to sign up for city's new dispatch center
  • A look at TABOR and the recreational marijuana sales tax holiday
  • Legislators debate legality of collecting rain water

Recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon as of today.

People 21 and older can now possess up to an ounce of pot when away from home and up to 8 ounces at home. It's also legal to grow up to four plants per household.

Marijuana Plant
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

Last week the town of Cedaredge held a meeting to let the community voice their opinion about recreational marijuana. 

Alaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal takes effect Tuesday, placing Alaska alongside Colorado and Washington as the three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot — if they can find it. It's still illegal to sell marijuana.

"You can still give people marijuana, but you can't buy it — or even barter for it," Alaska Public Media's Alexandra Gutierrez reports. "So, it's a pretty legally awkward spot. That probably won't stop people from acquiring it, though."

When it comes to marijuana laws, the Justice Department is now treating American Indian tribes the way it treats states that have legalized pot.

The move, announced in December, has inadvertently sparked interest in the marijuana business. While many see dollar signs, others worry about contributing to the impact substance abuse has already had on Indian Country.

When voters in four U.S. states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — approved recreational marijuana sales, part of the appeal was the promise of a new revenue source to buoy cash-strapped cities and states.

But tensions are growing in those four states over how the tax rewards from pot sales should be divided. Local governments want to get what they say is their share of pot tax revenue.

It's been nearly a year since Colorado made recreational marijuana legal, and since then, pot has become a billion-dollar business in the state. And some growers have made it a mission to make it legitimate and mainstream.

"Change the face," says pot entrepreneur Brooke Gehring. "But really, not to be the stereotype of what they think is stoner culture, but to realize they are true business people that are operating these companies."

Besides electing lawmakers Tuesday, voters settled ballot initiatives affecting everything from soda-pop taxes to fracking to marijuana sales.

The outcomes varied, but there was one economic issue that united voters. Overwhelmingly, they approved raises for minimum-wage workers.

Voters in Washington, D.C., have approved the legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Supporters of the D.C. marijuana measure had a 65-29.5 percent lead as of 9:09 p.m. ET, with 20,727 voting in favor.

Marijuana Plant
Laura Palmisano / KVNF

It’s been ten months since Colorado began allowing the recreational use of marijuana. But many towns across the state still don’t allow its sale. That may change this November. More than 20 communities in the state have marijuana issues on the ballot. 

"And here we have two cannabis plants that are mature and ready to be harvested," Scott Wilson says. "If you look at them you can see the purple on them and you can see the medicine on them."

Wilson owned the first medical marijuana store in Colorado’s Delta County.

When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use earlier this year, it also opened the door for food products infused with the psychoactive ingredient, THC, to anyone over the age of 21. That means bakers and food companies now have to ensure new products aren't contaminated with foodborne pathogens. And they have to make sure they're not falling into the hands of children or are too potent to eat.

Marijuana Plant

Paonia residents will decide if they want to allow retail marijuana facilities in their town during a special election in November. 

Rick Watts hosts a live call-in about recreational marijuana with Delta county commissioner, Bruce Hovde and locally based marijuana industry consultant, Jere Lowe. 


Luke Runyon/KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Colorado made history when it opened up licensed marijuana retail shops this year. Aside from just legalizing the purchase of smoke-able marijuana, it also means pot brownies have the potential to be big business.

Food products infused with marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, are available in stores across the state.

Doug Tucker

The first batch of Colorado's recreational marijuana stores opened this month on New Years Day in Telluride, Breckenridge and Denver among other places, marking the beginning of what's expected to be a multi-million dollar industry.


The first recreational marijuana shop west of Breckenridge along I-70 is now open for business in Carbondale.

KDNK's Ed Williams reports that long lines and high taxes are not deterring a steady stream of customers at the shop, called the Doctor's Garden.

Jason Bechtel via Flickr (CC BY-NC)

A U.S. Department of Justice official told members of Congress yesterday that it wouldn't prosecute banks for doing business with the recreational marijuana industry. As Bente Birkeland reports, Colorado took center stage during the Senate discussion on state and federal marijuana law.

Tuesday’s U.S. Senate committee meeting, Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws, was aptly named. At issue was the conflict that now exists on the federal level with Colorado and Washington’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

The Equinest via Flickr (CC)

The U.S. Department of Justice says it won’t stop marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. Thursday’s announcement means Colorado’s pot shops could open as early as January.

“I’m really pretty ecstatic with this announcement. It signals a very positive shift on marijuana laws,” said Brian Vicente with Amendment 64 supporter Sensible Colorado. “This really answers the unanswered question for years, what happens if Colorado legalizes Marijuana?”

Travis Bubenik/KVNF

Tuesday night’s Paonia Town Council meeting drew a much larger crowd than usual, with a full house of residents gathered to voice their opinions on how the town should deal with Amendment 64, the Colorado measure that legalizes commercial marijuana activity. 

UKhomeoffice via Flickr (CC)

This fall voters across Colorado will decide how recreational marijuana should be taxed.