Colorado moves to cut number of home-grown pot plants permitted

The number of cannabis plants Colorado residents are allowed to grow at home could soon be reduced to 12 under a proposed bill.

A House committee voted 11-2 Monday to crack down on the country’s most generous allowances for growing residential weed at home.The approved bill would still allow large-scale grows, just not in residential areas, and now awaits a vote by the full House.

“It’s re-criminalizing something that’s already legal here in Colorado,” said Ashley Weber, head of Colorado NORML.

Colorado currently allows medical pot patients to grow up to 99 plants, way more than other states where it’s been approved, and it also allows recreational users to group their allotted six plants into co-op grow-ops of massive greenhouses of pot that aren’t tracked or taxed.

Some jurisdictions, including Denver, already limit homes to 12 marijuana plants.

Sponsors of the bill say lower limits are needed across the state to avoid attracting black-market growers. Of the 28 states that allow medical marijuana, only Colorado allows patients to have more than 16 plants growing in their homes.

“Colorado home-grow laws position Colorado as an attractive market for criminal operations,” said Republican Rep. Cole Wistl.

The bill passed after medical MMJ users testified for hours that the limit would force them into the more expensive commercial market. Colorado has some 19,000 medical marijuana patients whose doctors have recommended a high number of plants in order to produce cannabis oils and other medical treatments.

Lawmakers amended the bill to make it a misdemeanor, not a felony, to be caught with too many plants on the first offense.