In this Dec. 27, 2013 file photo, different strains of pot are displayed for sale at a marijuana dispensary in Denver. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)
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Colorado is considering an unusual strategy to protect its nascent marijuana industry from a potential federal crackdown, even at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax collections.A bill pending in the Legislature would allow pot growers and retailers to reclassify their recreational pot as medical pot if a change in federal law or enforcement occurs.The bill would allow Colorado's 500 or so licensed recreational pot growers to instantly reclassify their weed. A switch would cost the state more than $100 million a year because Colorado taxes medical pot much more lightly than recreational weed – 2.9 percent versus 17.9 percent.It's hard to say how many businesses would be affected, or if medical pot would flood the market, because some businesses hold licenses to both grow and sell marijuana in Colorado.If the bill becomes law, Colorado would be the first pot state to take action to protect producers from a federal drug crackdown, marijuana analysts said.Members of Congress from some pot states have talked about trying to block federal intervention in marijuana states. Congress could reclassify marijuana so medical use is allowed, or it could try to block federal enforcement of marijuana prohibition through the federal budget.
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