A loophole in Colorado’s medical marijuana rules means thousands of pounds of surplus marijuana are left to feed the black market here and in neighboring states, an I-News Network investigation has found.
A new state law, which took effect July 1, doesn’t clear up the legal haze surrounding this surplus.
The constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana in Colorado a decade ago allows caregivers to have three mature plants and two ounces of usable marijuana per patient. But those three plants can yield much more than the two ounces the law allows. Under ideal growing conditions, the yield can reach more than a pound per plant.
That means every grower could have surplus marijuana that’s legal while growing on the plant, but illegal the moment it’s harvested.
“There’s not any provision about surplus in the constitution,” said Michael Dohr, senior staff attorney for the Colorado General Assembly, who helped pen the new law. “That’s always been an open question.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says roughly 94,000 people are currently registered medical marijuana patients. If Colorado growers have three mature plants per registered patient, they can legally harvest nearly 12,000 pounds of usable marijuana, or about six tons. However, those plants could produce a surplus of 20 to 64 tons of marijuana if the plants yield just three to eight ounces per plant.
WATCH: BP CLOSE TO PERMANENT SEAL