Time Machine Tuesday: History of Colorado Cannabis Laws

The topic of marijuana/cannabis in Colorado is not a new one.  In our library you can find state publications that tell the story of cannabis in Colorado over the past century.

The first Colorado cannabis law appeared on the books exactly one hundred years ago.  In 1917, the Colorado Legislature passed a law "to declare unlawful the planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, curing, or preparation for sale or gift of cannabis sativa, and to provide a penalty therefor."  Violation of this law was a misdemeanor and the penalty was "a fine not less than ten nor more than one hundred dollars" and/or "imprisonment in the county jail not more than thirty days."  The penalty was bumped up to a felony in 1929 and by 1937 the punishment had grown to "imprisonment in the state penitentiary for not less than one year nor more than ten years."  The Colorado Year Book 1937-38 discusses the 1937 law:

The legalization of medical marijuana was added to the State Constitution in 2000.  However, a 1927 law shows that druggists were allowed -- with a prescription from a licensed physician -- to dispense no more than one ounce of marijuana in pharmacies.  Colorado law again addressed medical marijuana in a 1981 law "concerning the therapeutic use of cannabis."

For further resources search the online Colorado Session Laws or our library's web catalog, or contact our library for information.


Department of Revenue Annual Report

The Colorado Department of Revenue has just released its 2016 Annual Report.  This annual report is one of the most useful and robust statistical reports published by the State.  In the report you can find numbers on such topics as:

  • Titles and registrations
  • Emissions
  • Licenses issued
  • Permits issued 
  • Numbers of licenses in force, by type
  • Organ donors
  • Renewals and reinstatements
  • Vehicle ownership tax collected by county
  • Registered vehicles by type and by county
  • Registered vehicles by plate type (special plates)
  • Ticket sales by game type, including comparison with previous years
  • Distribution of funds 
  • Number of dealer licenses by type
  • Investigations
  • Fines 
  • Revenues and expenditures
  • Fund distribution
  • Revenue distribution resulting from Amendment 50
  • Gambling intercept payments (restitution)
  • Tobacco sales violations and compliance checks
  • Liquor licenses by type
  • Liquor licenses by county
  • Liquor sales violations
  • Active licenses, medical and retail
  • Application fees collected
  • Sales and excise taxes collected
  • Licensed businesses by county
  • Live racing days
  • Pari-mutuel sales (horse and greyhound)
  • Pari-mutuel tax collections
  • Racetrack and licensed off-track betting locations
  • Sales and use tax net collections
  • Income tax returns
  • Tax credits
  • Alternative minimum tax
  • Refunds issued
  • Distribution of tax collections by type
  • Severance tax
  • Gross receipts realized by source
  • Cost of administration
  • Individual income tax checkoffs
...and more.  You can also compare this data with previous years by viewing the department's past annual reports, available online from our library all the way back to 1942!


Whirling Disease of Trout

Whirling disease is a parasitic infection that has been affecting Colorado trout since being accidentally introduced here in the 1980s.  Since then, Colorado Parks & Wildlife has been working to prevent and control the disease, which has contributed to the decline in numbers of rainbow trout in Colorado's waters.

The disease can be deadly to young trout; older, larger fishes with the disease may exhibit deformations or engage in a tail-chasing behavior that gives the disease its name.  Whirling disease does not affect humans, so you don't have to be concerned about eating trout.  You can help control the disease, however, by thoroughly cleaning your fishing equipment.  Also, never move fish from one body of water to another, as infected fish could spread the disease to trout populations that were previously unaffected.

For more information, see the CPW's Whirling Disease webpage as well as their Aquatic Research site.  You can also learn about whirling disease in numerous research studies and publications available from our library, including the following.  Items without hyperlinks can be checked out in print.

Photo by David Hanigan, Colorado Parks & Wildlife


Time Machine Tuesday: The Union Colony at Greeley

The story of the founding of Greeley, Colorado, is an interesting one.  It was named for New York newspaperman Horace Greeley (of "Go West, Young Man" fame) who visited the area in 1859 and declared it would make fine farmland.  Before becoming the City of Greeley, however, it was established as an experimental utopian farming community.

Meeker's ad in the New-York Tribune, December 4, 1869.
A decade after his visit, Greeley and Nathan Meeker organized the Union Colony, also known as the Union Temperance Colony, as no saloons or liquor stores were permitted.  An editorial in Horace Greeley's New-York Tribune called for emigrants to sign up.  "Mr. Nathan C. Meeker...proposes to plant a colony in an admirable location discovered by him during his recent trip to the Rocky Mountains."  The editorial-advertisement promised "remarkable healthfulness" and "decided fertility and facility of cultivation," while extolling the abundant resources and "beauty of landscape and scenery with exemption from disagreeable neighbors."  Prospective emigrants were to be "temperate, moral, industrious, [and] intelligent."  

The advertisement drew a huge response, and in 1870 Meeker and more than a hundred others settled in the new community.  They set up extensive irrigation systems, and their success at farming, along with proximity to the railroad, attracted many more settlers.  In 1886 the Union Colony changed its name and was officially incorporated as Greeley.  However, the former temperance colony remained dry until 1972.

Horace Greeley himself never lived in the colony, and Nathan Meeker was killed by Indians in the famous Meeker Massacre in 1879 (that's a story for another Tuesday).  Meanwhile, the town thrived, becoming the largest municipality in Weld County.  The State Normal School (now the University of Northern Colorado) opened in 1890, and the city is still closely associated with agriculture.

You can read the fascinating story of the Union Colony in an old book available digitally from our library.  The Union Colony at Greeley, Colorado, 1869-1871, was written in 1918 by Dr. James F. Willard, a history professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  The nearly 500-page book includes not only a history of the colony, but reproduces many primary documents such as the minutes of Meeker's Union Colony Association; detailed financial records; bylaws; deeds; correspondence; newspaper excerpts; and more.  The book also contains a list of original settlers, including where they moved from, their date of arrival and how many members were in their family (as self-described; one man listed himself as "old Bachelor.")  Willard's book is an essential resource for anyone researching the history of Greeley and the Union Colony -- and it is now easily accessible to anyone online.     


Vehicle Remote Starter Systems

You may have seen road signs around Denver asking you to refrain from "puffing" your vehicle -- that is, letting it idle unattended, which people often do during the winter months to warm up the vehicle.  The problem with "puffing" is that it invites auto theft. It is also illegal.

Yet many newer vehicles have "remote starter" technology -- a driver can start the vehicle remotely by using the vehicle's key fob.  These systems have built-in security features to deter theft, such as keeping the doors locked and not allowing the car to be driven until the driver with the key fob enters the vehicle. 

Up until last winter, Colorado law had not kept up with the new technology.  All vehicle idling was considered illegal.  So last March the governor signed HB16-1122, which added "an exception for vehicles with a remote starter system when the driver takes adequate security measures."

For those without remote starter systems, it is still illegal to "puff."  For more information on preventing auto theft see these resources and tips from the Colorado State Patrol.


Backcountry Survival

Hiking, camping, hunting and fishing, and snow sports are some of Coloradans' favorite recreational pastimes.  Sometimes, however, unforeseen situations can lead you off the beaten path.  Every outdoors enthusiast should familiarize themselves with basic survival skills in case of emergency.  Even the most experienced mountaineers can become lost in a blinding snowstorm, or become separated from a group.  A great way to prepare yourself is by viewing the Colorado Parks & Wildlife's survival videos.  Divided into 10 chapters, these videos teach you how to pack a survival kit; how to read maps and compasses; keeping yourself hydrated; starting a fire; signaling for rescue; suggestions for clothing and shelter; and even psychological tactics for controlling panic.

The webpage also includes links to read about situations such as hypothermia, and how to forage for food.  These articles are taken from the classic publication The Art of Survival by "Papa Bear" Whitmore.  You can access Papa Bear's original 1991 publication online from our library.


Time Machine Tuesday: National Western Stock Show

Who says Denver's not a cow town?  The National Western Stock Show, held in Denver every January, is now in its 112th year.  Since its 1905 debut the Stock Show has been the source of many Denver traditions -- leaving the Christmas lights up through the Stock Show; exhibition of the Grand Champion Steer at the Brown Palace; and the annual Stock Show Parade through downtown Denver, which began in 1984 (it was cancelled this year due to weather).

You can read about the early days of the Stock Show in several publications available digitally from our library.  Pages 689-693 of the 1927 History of Colorado, published by the State Historical Society, describe the Show's beginnings, and the 1931 Extension publication What is 4-H Club Work? takes a look at some of the preparations that go into exhibiting at the Stock Show.

You can also read about the history of the Stock Show in Issue 1, 1981, of Colorado Heritage, which is available for checkout from our library.  An article, "National Western:  A Brief History of the Stock Show," was written by Willard Simms, longtime general manager of the National Western.

For more about the livestock industry in Colorado, search our library's online catalog.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

What will you be doing on Monday?  Sleeping in?  Or making a difference in your community?  The Governor's Commission on Community Service and Americorps suggest Coloradans make their day off into a day of service:

Held annually on the anniversary of the Reverend Dr. King’s birthday, volunteers from across the state and nation come together to serve and find solutions to the most pressing problems facing their communities. MLK Day gives everyone the opportunity to start the year by giving back to others and making an impact.

For ideas, or to read about what Coloradans have done on past years' MLK days of service, you can access the program's annual report, available from our library.  Also available are reports for the 9/11 Day of Service, another service day promoted by the Commission.


Legislative Information

The First Regular Session of the 71st General Assembly of Colorado begins today.  In Colorado regular sessions are 120 days, so this year's session will adjourn on May 10, 2017.  A full schedule is available here.

There are many new legislators this session.  To find your Senator or Representative, go to the "Find My Legislator" map feature on the General Assembly homepage.  You can also browse the legislative directory, which lists each member's district, party affiliation, Capitol phone number, committee assignments, occupation, sponsored bills, photo, and email address.

Once introduced, bills will be available at http://leg.colorado.gov/bills.  Here you can browse by subject, search by sponsor or keyword, find the most frequently accessed bills, and connect to a database of all bills.  As the bills move through the legislative process, each version will be added to the website in order to trace the bill's history.  For an overview of the legislative process in Colorado, see the diagram below (click to enlarge):

Citizen participation in the legislative process is encouraged.  You can watch the proceedings in person in the House/Senate galleries at the Capitol, or on the Colorado Channel, which offers both live-stream and archived recordings of the House and Senate floors.  Coloradans are also welcome to write, call, or email their legislator, and may also testify on bills.  For logistical information go to Capitol Information.  As you watch the proceedings, you may be curious about some of the terminology or procedures.  To learn about these go to the House and Senate Rules page.  You can also learn more at the Office of Legislative Legal Services' Colorado LegiSource blog.

Researchers can find previously enacted laws at http://leg.colorado.gov/colorado-laws.  For bills from prior sessions, see the annual Digest of Bills or go to Prior Session Information to view all bills from the 1997 through 2015 sessions.  (Bills from 2016 and after are at this link).  At the State Publications Library, we have numerous resources from prior sessions of the General Assembly, including:
  • House and Senate Journals
  • Colorado Session Laws
  • Status sheets (listing the history of each bill)
  • Directories
  • The "Long Bill" (annual budget bill)
  • Legislative Council research reports
  • Statutorily-required reports
  • Appropriations Reports and other reports of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC)
  • Colorado Revised Statutes
  • Reports from the Office of the State Auditor
  • State agency budgets
  • Issue Briefs 
  • Sunrise and sunset reviews
...and much more.  Search our library's online catalog or call us at 303-866-6725.  We are happy to assist you in your research.


Time Machine Tuesday: The Taylor Grazing Act

With the 1862 Homestead Act thousands of settlers poured into the Great Plains, and over the years cattle grazing and dryland farming destroyed the natural prairie grasses.  Around 1930, a major drought began, and without the grasses to hold it down, the prairie essentially blew away -- huge dust storms covered the land like snow, blocking sunlight for days and creeping into every tiny crevice in settlers' houses.  To make matters worse, the Dust Bowl coincided with the economic losses of the Great Depression.

A dust storm approaches a town on the Great Plains.  Note the land office in the picture.  Photo courtesy USDA.
By 1934 it was clear that something had to be done to protect public lands from overgrazing.  So Edward Taylor, a Colorado congressman, introduced a grazing bill.  Under Taylor's bill -- and later Act -- nearly 80,000,000 acres of public lands in the West were placed under protection of the Department of the Interior through the establishment of grazing districts.  The Act also created a new federal bureau that eventually became the Bureau of Land Management.

Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes appointed a Coloradan, Farrington Carpenter, as head of the new Grazing Bureau.  Political battles led to Carpenter's being fired in 1938.  He later served as Colorado State Treasurer from 1941-42.  His ranch, in Routt County near Hayden, is now held under a conservation easement from the Nature Conservancy and is open to visitors.  Carpenter's autobiography, Confessions of a Maverick, is available for checkout from our library.

Under the Taylor Grazing Act, six grazing districts were created in Colorado, the largest being 2,099,331 acres extending from the White River National Forest and Yampa River to the Utah border.  Being a mining state, some in Colorado worried that the Act would restrict mining activities in the districts.  The Year Book of the State of Colorado, 1935-36, provided assurances that the Act would not provide any limitations on mining.  The Year Book, a biennial publication produced during the first half of the 20th century by the State Planning Commission, included facts and statistics on all matters of life and government in Colorado.  The Taylor Grazing Act is discussed in the 1935-36 book on pages 309-311.  More detail is provided in the following report, for 1937-38, when the Act had been underway for a few years.  That report included, on pages 399-402, statistical tables, financial information, and discussion of the Act and other public land issues in Colorado.

Today the State Treasurer's Office oversees distribution of Federal funds from the Taylor Grazing Act -- see their Federal Funds Distribution website for information.


Protect Yourself, Your Pets, and Livestock from Rabies

In 2016, 88 wild animals tested positive for rabies, with possible exposure to 100 pets, 116 livestock animals, and 32 humans, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Most rabies cases are found in bats and skunks; however, rabid foxes and raccoons have occasionally been reported.

So how can you protect yourself and your domestic animals from rabies?  Visit the CDPHE's Rabies webpage for numerous resources, including brochures and fact sheets; rabies testing protocol; vaccination information; resources and precautions for veterinarians, animal control, and others who work with animals; and more.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture has also published some rabies prevention tips.

Rabies data includes annual statistics back to 2012 as well as maps of occurrences.  Many people think that rabies is more likely to be found in rural areas; these maps illustrate that this is not true -- people in the metro area need to be aware of the risk of rabies.  In 2015, for instance, most rabid bats were found in Denver, Arapahoe, and Larimer counties along the I-25 corridor.

Our library has many resources on rabies, including earlier years' data, and several publications that can provide useful information on protecting yourself, your pets, and livestock.  Selected publications include:
For more resources, visit our library's online catalog. 


Veterans Community Living Centers

Colorado offers five state-run homes for aged veterans and their families.  Located in Aurora (Fitzsimons), Florence, Monte Vista, Rifle, and Walsenburg, the facilities provide a variety of services including long- and short-term care, assisted living, memory care, and hospice services.  Those eligible for the Veterans Community Living Centers (formerly known as State and Veterans Nursing Homes) include honorably discharged veterans, their spouses/widows, and "Gold Star" parents (those whose children died while serving in the Armed Forces).  To find out more about the homes and the services they provide, go to their website.

For detailed information and background on the program, search our library's online catalog using search terms  veterans nursing homes and veterans community living centers.  Here you will find resources such as audit reports, legislative reports, business plans, annual reports, and sunset reviews.


Cannabis Production Information

Cannabis growers in Colorado are required to follow certain rules and regulations.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA)'s website has several resources that can help producers or prospective producers raise cannabis safely and legally.

CDA has recently launched their Pesticide Use in Cannabis Production page.  Here you can find information on the Colorado Pesticide Applicator Act, the Governor's Executive Order on marijuana and pesticides; federal worker protection standards; a list of pesticides allowed for use on cannabis; and other associated rules and regulations.

 In Colorado certain seed varieties have been approved for growing industrial hemp.  The CDA's Industrial Hemp webpage lists approved seed varieties and contains videos, fact sheets, registration forms, inspection information, and more.  The page also includes fact sheets and FAQs to help both producers and consumers to understand the difference between hemp and marijuana and other hemp facts.

To find out about home growing, as well as other marijuana laws and information, go to the state's marijuana website.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Constitution

Of all the Colorado state publications, our state constitution reigns supreme.  After 140 years of amendments, conventions, and change, it is interesting to look back at the original state constitution as drafted in 1876.  Recently the Colorado State Archives digitized the original -- handwritten -- 1876 constitution, and it available in its entirety for viewing online, along with a brief history.  To see how the Colorado constitution has changed over the years, search our library's web catalog.

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