Lawmakers poised to pass bills on marijuana edibles, banking

DENVER - Colorado state lawmakers kept two bills alive on Tuesday to change state laws regarding legal marijuana sales.

One of the bills takes aim at marijuana edibles, a group of product that state regulators are currently examining for their high potency in small doses of food.

The bill would require regulators to create new rules about how edibles have to look.

The House of Representatives finished business on Tuesday without taking up the bill. The House still needs to decide whether to agree with amendments made to the bill by the state Senate before the bill can move on to the governor's desk.

"Whether you're a high school principal who sees kids eating gummy bears at a cafeteria table or whether you're an adult at a cocktail party and you're not sure if that box of Chex Mix on the table is marijuana-infused or not," said Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver.) "What we're trying to do is get a way where there's an easily and clearly identifiable way to recognize what is a marijuana-infused edible and what's just a regular gummy bear."

Johnston says ideas for that range from stamping a green cross on edible products, to dying edibles a certain unique color, to stamping a unique pattern like the shape of a marijuana leaf into edibles.

The bill would create a task force to examine what options might work best before the state Department of Revenue starts making rules to impose the new requirement.

The other major marijuana bill being considered by lawmakers right now has to do with banking services for the newly legal pot industry.

The state Senate passed the bill on a crucial voice vote late Tuesday afternoon.

The bill would allow state-regulated financial co-ops only for the marijuana industry.

Those co-ops would only come into existence with the approval of the Federal Reserve which would have to grant the new institutions access to money transfer services that it controls.

Gov. John Hickenlooper's office has been lobbying heavily for the banking bill, saying that it needs to present some sort of plan to the Fed in order to have a chance of solving the banking crisis without needing approval from Congress.

Real banks will not do business with pot companies, for fear of prosecution.

Banks are regulated at the federal level, and federal laws still treat marijuana as an illegal controlled substance.

Banks who do engage in business with the industry fear they could be charged under federal money-laundering laws.

As a result, many marijuana companies do most or in some cases all of their business in cash.

The companies say this makes them attractive targets for criminals.

Republicans in both chambers of the state legislature have criticized the bill, saying that it is being rushed through in the final days of the session without appropriate time to study its language.

The bill weighs in at nearly 50 pages with several amendments that of been attached.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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