The fact that marijuana has been legalized in Colorado does not mean that there are no criminal violations remaining on the books. For example, nowadays a person can be arrested for a felony violation of growing marijuana without a license. Prosecutors in Denver announced that a man was arrested for marijuana drug offenses dealing with that issue recently.

A 45-year-old man was arrested by authorities for growing hundreds of pounds of marijuana in three warehouses located in Denver. They have charged him with felony violations of possessing more than 50 pounds of marijuana with the intent to deliver, illegal cultivation and tax evasion. Basically, private citizens can only grow up to six plants in their homes without getting into trouble.

This offense, then, may be akin to trying to sell moonshine without a license. However, here the consequences are severe. The drug offenses he now faces for not getting a license are as steep as they were when the drug was illegal. Criminal defense counsel may be able to develop several defenses under these circumstances.

For one thing, with a new set of laws and procedures, it may be premature to prosecute this defendant. The man may have intended to obtain a license at some later point. Criminal intent must still be established beyond a reasonable doubt. Without any attempts at selling the product, it may be difficult to prove the intent to sell without a license, which he could have applied for at a later date.

In a sense, the arrest disproves the theory that there will be no illegal marijuana sales in Colorado. Here, serious felony charges for drug offenses are pending against someone for not getting a license. It raises the specter of a whole new set of crimes, a black market of marijuana sales, carried out to avoid paying taxes. It may be that the severity of the crime and its penalties may benefit by a re-evaluation in light of these considerations. Furthermore, market forces that may be keeping the prices high should probably be relaxed to encourage even more legal competition.

Source: 9news.com, “Prosecutors say Denver man had large illegal grows“, , July 17, 2014