DENVER, Colo. June 12, 2023 – Earlier this month, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill legalizing online payments for marijuana in the state despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.
Rep. William Lindstedt, Rep. Said Sharbini and Rep. Robert Rodriguez introduced House Bill 1279 (HB1279) on March 30. The new law repeals language in state law prohibiting online cannabis sales and adds provisions allowing a licensed retail marijuana business in Colorado to accept online payments for the sale of marijuana and marijuana products.
Under the law, an individual must be physically present on the retail marijuana store’s licensed premises to take possession of cannabis products purchased online.
Marijuana retailers must provide online shoppers with “digital versions of all warning or educational materials that the retail marijuana store is required to post and provide on its licensed premises.”
The House passed HB1279 by a 40-23 vote. The Senate approved the measure 23-12. Polis signed the bill on June 1 and it will go into effect on Aug. 7 unless a citizen petition is filed to challenge the law.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
The legalization of cannabis in Colorado removed a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
Allowing online payment for marijuana products will make it easier for consumers to purchase cannabis in the state and expand the market. This will further erode federal prohibition.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Along with Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis. California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. In 2021, New York, New Mexico, Virginia and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action, and Rhode Island legalized cannabis for adult use in 2022. Missouri and Maryland legalized marijuana in November 2022, and Delaware and Montana joined in 2023, there are now 37 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and 23 legalizing it for adult recreational use.
The lesson here is pretty straightforward. As Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin noted, “When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations, or mandates down our throats.”
The legalization of online cannabis payments demonstrates an important strategic point. Passing bills that take a step forward sets the stage, even if they are limited in scope. Opening the door clears the way for additional steps. You can’t take the second step before you take the first.
- Alaska Bill Would Prohibit State and Local Enforcement of Federal Gun Control; Past, Present and Future - February 22, 2024
- Kansas Committees Hold Hearings on Bills to Treat Gold and Silver as Money - February 21, 2024
- To the Governor: South Dakota Passes Two Bills to Take Steps Against a Central Bank Digital Currency - February 21, 2024