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Number of Colorado marijuana plants caregivers can grow will drastically drop in 2017

Caregivers’ ability to grow hundreds of Colorado marijuana plants – which some claim is supplying the black market in and outside of the state – is about to be uprooted.

Beginning Jan. 1, the maximum number of plants marijuana caregivers can grow will drop from 495 to 99 – one of the most sweeping changes to the caregivers program since Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2000.

The move has been hailed by law enforcement officials as a necessary step to combat what they say are illegal grows masquerading as legitimate caregiver operations, which they fear are helping supply the black market.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, for example, plans to ramp up searches of suspected marijuana grows in 2017. In theory, they shouldn’t find much, because a 12-plant limit already exists on residentially zoned properties.