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Medical Marijuana: Is A Federal Crackdown, Similar To That In California, Coming To Colorado?

Medical Marijuana Colorado

First Posted: 12/15/11 09:50 AM ET Updated: 01/12/12 04:05 PM ET

Could a large scale medical marijuana crackdown be coming to Colorado like the one seen in California? That's exactly what a law enforcement official told The Associated Press is being considered for Colorado next year. The official did not want to be identified and did not provide specific details because the the matter is still under review.

UPDATE:

The Associated Press reports that federal officials are beginning a California-style crackdown on medical marijuana businesses in Colorado.

As CBS4 originally reported in December when rumors of crackdown were beginning to take shape, the crackdown will be focused on medical marijuana businesses that are within 1,000 feet of schools. They must shut down within 45 days or face federal penalties.

Letters were sent out to Colorado medical marijuana businesses on Thursday.

Developing story...

EARLIER:

CBS4 discovered that warning letters -- similar to those that were sent out in California -- will go out to dispensaries and grow facilities near schools (within 1,000 feet) and would be given 45 days to shut down or move their place of operations or face prosecution by U.S. Attorney in Colorado John Walsh. However, CBS4 also reported that it's unclear when that process would begin and Walsh has not released a statement on the matter since it was first reported.

The reasoning behind the 1,000 foot boundary stems from federal law which uses that measurement as a factor in drug crime sentencing. There are many dispensaries in Colorado that are within 1,000 feet of schools, according to High Times, because they were approved by local laws to do so. However, the federal law would trump the state law if and when a federal crackdown would begin.

All of this comes just days after a new poll was released by Public Policy Polling that a large group of Coloradans believe that marijuana should not just be legal medically, but fully legalized. From the Public Policy report:

Coloradans are even more strongly in favor of legalizing marijuana, and they overwhelmingly believe it at least should be available for medical purposes. 49% think marijuana use should generally be legal, and 40% illegal. But explicitly for medical use, that rises to a 68-25 spread. Just five years ago, a referendum to legalize simple possession by people over 21 failed by 20 points. On the medical question, Democratic support rises from 64% for general use to 78%; Republicans rise from 30% to 50%, and independents from 54% to 75%.

The Colorado Independent reports that the Public Policy Polling data "flies in the face of statements made by a number of legislators over the past year that if voters knew what they were in for, they would never have approved medical marijuana in the first place." Art Way, Colorado manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, went even further telling the Independent that, "decision-makers and elected officials really just don't have the pulse of the people they represent. The average person considers the federal position that marijuana has 'no medical value' to be a joke."

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) echoed a similar sentiment when he told HuffPost, "There are more pressing issues facing federal law enforcement so it makes no sense for them to waste time and taxpayer money interfering with state-legal businesses that voters have approved, that are well-regulated, and that generate jobs and economic activity. Colorado has the nation’s strictest regulatory system, which means our dispensaries operate transparently and legitimately. I should hope that the federal government would focus its resources on keeping Americans safe from crime rather than interfering with a legal business that benefits Colorado’s economy.”

Despite all this pressure from the feds, the Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a collective of marijuana activist groups and individuals including SAFER, Sensible Colorado, NORML and others are still pushing for an initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Colorado for the 2012 state ballot.

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 would make the personal use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for adults aged 21 and older. It establishes a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol is currently. The act also would allow for the cultivation, procesing, and sale of industrial hemp.

Read the entire Regulate Marijuana Like Alchool Act of 2012 here.

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Filed by Matt Ferner  |