PUEBLO, Colo. - With a new limit on how many marijuana plants people can grow in their homes, Pueblo County officials are hoping this number will continue to shrink and help eliminate the black market.
Bust after bust, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office is getting good at taking down illegal marijuana growers.
Before the new 12-plant count law went into effect on January 1, the Sheriff's Office ended up at many homes that were within the regulations, but Undersheriff J.R. Hall said that's all about to change.
"What we're trying to do is generate voluntary compliance. By generating voluntary compliance, then we wouldn't have to take the enforcement action that we need to, but we'll do it eventually," Hall said.
They're not the only ones. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said it is preparing to do the same thing.
"We can now apply for a search warrant and execute a search warrant. And we can now take the items as evidence that are necessary," said El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder.
The new plant count means that if you have more than 12 plants growing in one home, you could end up facing felony charges.
If you have six plants over the limit, it's a Class 1 misdemeanor. The ranking goes all the way up to a Class 3 felony if you have more than 30 plants over the limit.
Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said the hope for this new count limit is to get rid of the black market.
"We suspect that a good portion of the sizable home grows across the state that are operating under the auspices of providing for patients may be providing cannabis for the black market," Pace said.
Pueblo County has notified people it knew of who had large but legal plant counts last year, who may be violating the law this year, and will be checking in with them soon.
Among 28 other states that have legalized marijuana, 12 states ban all home-growing and no other states allow more than 16 plants to be grown.