October 10, 2017– This year the Colorado Legislature passed House Bill 1220, imposing reasonable limits on residential marijuana cultivation with the stated purpose of eroding the black market for marijuana in the state. The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office intends to enforce these laws, and would like Yuma County citizens to be aware of them before they go into effect in an effort to seek compliance through education before enforcement.

H.B. 1220 creates an amendment to the existing Colorado Revised Statutes §18-18-406 – Offenses relating to marijuana and marijuana concentrate, which will take effect January 1, 2018. The amended statute states: “Regardless of whether the plants are for medical or recreational use, it is unlawful for a person to knowingly cultivate, grow, or produce more than twelve marijuana plants on or in a residential property; or to knowingly allow more than twelve marijuana plants to be cultivated, grown, or produced on or in a residential property.”

The new law creates criminal offenses depending upon the severity of the violation which range from a level 1 Drug Petty Offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, and up to a level 3 Drug Felony punishable by 2-4 years’ incarceration and fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

Faced with a noticeable increase in the number of residential marijuana grows in Yuma County over the last several years, Sheriff Chad Day believes that the new restriction will provide law enforcement with a bit more teeth in combating some of the health and safety concerns presented by large residential marijuana grows. Some evidence of these concerns was the 1,700-plant marijuana grow in the basement of a residence south of Yuma that caught fire in June of this year, or the 500-plant residential marijuana grow in Hale that had bypassed the electrical grid to siphon off free power in 2016.

“This change in the law is a bi-partisan effort defined” says Sheriff Day. “It actually originated in the Governor’s Office, and had support from both sides of the political spectrum in the state legislature. It was also supported by law enforcement and the marijuana industry during debate. It seemed everyone recognized one of the many flaws in the current marijuana laws. It is somewhat similar to the (civil) land use code change that the Yuma County Board of County Commissioners adopted earlier this year that, until this law goes into effect, limits the number of marijuana plants grown at any residence to 18 total plants. It is certainly progress, but there is a lot of work to do.”

The Sheriff’s Office would like to also take the opportunity to remind citizens of existing state law which states that marijuana plants must be kept in an enclosed, locked area that can’t be viewed openly or accessed by minors under the age of twenty-one. This means that plants can’t be kept or grown outside in the open.

For more information, please visit the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office website, or call the Office.