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Is the Prohibition of the Manufacture of Marijuana Unconstitutional in Colorado?

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The Colorado Supreme Court decided it is not in People v. Lente (2017 CO 74).

In this case, Austin Lente (“Lente”) tried to extract some hash oil from marijuana by using butane. In the process, he set his laundry room on fire. When authorities arrived, he was also charged with processing or manufacture of marijuana, violating a Colorado statute. The district court dismissed the charge against Lente saying Amendment 64 decriminalized the processing of marijuana. The state appealed directly to the Colorado Supreme Court.

In 2012, Colorado citizens adopted Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution, which legalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for people who are 21 or older. Amendment 64 also decriminalized processing six or fewer marijuana plants. Lente does not dispute that his conduct—using butane to extract hash oil from marijuana—violated the statute.  But he argues that statute is unconstitutional because Amendment 64 legalized extracting hash oil by legalizing the processing of marijuana plants.

The Colorado Supreme Court presumes statutes are constitutional, and a challenger has the burden to prove that any statute in question is unconstitutional. Lente says what he was doing was processing marijuana for personal use. The state disagreed, saying the extraction of hash oil is not covered under personal use, is therefore manufacture, and requires a license, which Lente does not have. The Court says, under Colorado law, manufacturing means extraction or chemical synthesis, and processing excludes extraction and chemical synthesis.  Because the method of making hash oil Lente was using involves extraction—it is manufacturing under the law. Lente failed to prove that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to him. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remands this case for further proceedings.

The Metier Law Firm is committed to assisting people with personal injury claims throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we frequently serve as co-counsel to law firms nationwide. Tom Metier recently secured the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado.

 

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  1. wtfk says:
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    I would think it quite reasonable to assert that manufacturing is somehow connected with resale, and unless he has been found to have resold his product, that he is not manufacturing. I believe there are precedents for this, including the manufacture of firearms.