Ask a Stoner: William Breathes answers more questions about Amendment 64 and beyond
Dear Stoner: Who has access to the MMJ patient directory? -- Paranoid
Dear Paranoid: Lay off the Super Silver Haze. Seriously, the only people who have access to your medical marijuana records are employees at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. And they are obligated to release that information only to law enforcement, and only for verifying patient status -- say, to make sure the plants you're growing are legal, or that the herb you've got on you is legal. The directory can't be used to verify whether a person applying for a state job is on the MMJ patient registry, for example.
But maybe you should be a little wary. Last spring, we reported that the CDPHE was linking directly with state law enforcement computers to give police direct access. Colorado officials have said that MMJ patients won't be auto-flagged, but some uber-paranoid stoners among us insist that police have been keeping records of people who openly volunteer their red-card status.
For those of you who are now successfully FREAKED OUT, remember that under Amendment 64, there shouldn't be any need for police verification if you've only got an ounce or less on you -- and the amendment says there will be no registry of recreational users. Same goes for growing, since Amendment 64 allows adults to grow six plants -- with a few caveats. You can only have three plants in flower at any time. And while you can keep all that you grow, you can't sell any. You can give away an ounce at a time, though. Preferably to us.
Dear Stoner: What's up with head shops getting aggro when you say the b-word in their shop? -- King Bong
Dear King: While the word "bong" isn't illegal, the slang term implies illegal things to law enforcement. Current federal law suggests that when determining whether something is paraphernalia, police take into consideration any circumstantial evidence of anyone "in control of the object." So when you walk into a head shop and ask for a bong and the guy behind the counter complies, it could be argued that he is knowingly selling you drug paraphernalia.
"I'll take the bong... er, I mean, water pipe on the left."
At the state level, things get a bit gray. The sale, manufacture, delivery or advertisement of drug paraphernalia is illegal in Colorado. But as long as you follow the new rules outlined in Amendment 64, possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia would be legal. The sale of bongs, water pipes and rolling papers for illegal use is also a no-no at the federal level, carrying sentences of up to three years in prison. And when the feds want to make a statement, they'll enforce that. In 2003, famous stoner comedian and then-bong distributor Tommy Chong was arrested as part of a nationwide crackdown dubbed "Operation Pipe Dreams." He spent nine months in prison and had to shell out more than $123,000 in fines and forfeitures.
To try and distance the product they are selling from any illegal activity, shops now label their wares carefully. They won't sell you a weed pipe; they'll instead peddle tobacco products and "functional glass art." What you choose do with that is up to you.
While I agree this is a stupid, roundabout way of doing things, the shop is theirs, not yours, and no matter how paranoid they may appear, they call the shots. While a few shop owners really don't care, most do. So as a general rule, play it safe: Fight the urge and just point at the bongs you want to see. And, please, don't walk into your local head shop announcing how much marijuana or hash oil you intend to smoke with your new piece.
William Breathes's regular weekly dispensary reviews return next week, but Ask a Stoner lives on. Have more questions about Amendment 64 -- or just wonder why marijuana and classic rock go so well together? Shoot an e-mail to Ask a Stoner at firstname.lastname@example.org.