Pot is legal in Colorado -- now what? Well, that's just what Gov. John Hickenlooper's marijuana task force is working on, how to best regulate marijuana in the state.
The pot task force, which is working to identify the policy and legal issues that need to be resolved now that recreational marijuana for adults is now legal with the passage of Amendment 64, is now back to work after taking a break over the holidays, 9News reports.
Two smaller groups within the task force met today to discuss consumer safety, how to label commercial marijuana and whether recreational marijuana should be regulated like alcohol or closer to how medical marijuana is currently handled in Colorado.
The task force is comprised of 24 members representing various points of view from pot growers, state government officials, employers and the law enforcement community on how marijuana should be regulated in the state. The group of 24 has until the end of February to make their final recommendations to the governor on how to handle the implementation of the new law.
Amendment 64 was approved 55-45 in November's election and its passage was due in large part to the efforts of Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol's co-director Mason Tvert who responded to Hickenlooper's creation of the task force and signing of A64 into law saying in December, "We look forward to working with the governor's office and many other stakeholders on the implementation of Amendment 64. We are certain that this will be a successful endeavor and Colorado will become a model for other states to follow."
The task force is co-chared by Jack Finlaw, Hickenlooper's chief legal counsel and Barbra Brohl, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue. Click here for a full list of all 24 members.
Via statement, Hickenlooper's office outlines the goals and mission of the task force:
Issues that will be addressed include: the need to amend current state and local laws regarding the possession, sale, distribution or transfer of marijuana and marijuana products to conform them to Amendment 64’s decriminalization provisions; the need for new regulations for such things as security requirements for marijuana establishments and for labeling requirements; education regarding long-term health effects of marijuana use and harmful effects of marijuana use by those under the age of 18; and the impact of Amendment 64 on employers and employees and the Colorado economy.
The Task Force will also work to reconcile Colorado and federal laws such that the new laws and regulations do not subject Colorado state and local governments and state and local government employees to prosecution by the federal government.
All meetings of the Task Force and any working groups will be open to the public. The Task Force will also endeavor to solicit public comment as part of its consideration of the policy, legal and procedural issues that need to be resolved to implement Amendment 64.
“Task Force members are charged with finding practical and pragmatic solutions to the challenges of implementing Amendment 64 while at all times respecting the diverse perspectives that each member will bring to the work of the task force,” the Executive Order says. “The Task Force shall respect the will of the voters of Colorado and shall not engage in a debate of the merits of marijuana legalization or Amendment 64.”
“As we move forward now with implementation of Amendment 64, we will try to maintain as much flexibility as possible to accommodate the federal government’s position on the amendment,” Hickenlooper said in a statement.
Amendment 64 allows for adults, 21 and older, to possess up to an ounce of marijuana as well as grow up to six plants -- with only three of the plants mature and flowering -- all for personal, recreational use in their home.
It has been nearly two months since the passage of historic measures in Colorado and Washington which legalized the recreational use of marijuana and Colorado has just beginning to see what this new law might mean with the arrival of many "firsts" in the state. The first members-only recreational marijuana club opened up just at the turn of the new year, a "cannabis-friendly" coffee and tea bar that is billed as BYOC: Bring your own cannabis sprouted up in Lafayette for another first, and a first-of-its-kind professional training school, THC University, launched to help people learn how to best cultivate their home-grown marijuana. Classes will be in session beginning in February.
Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law and the federal government's intent to enforce that law remains unclear, President Barack Obama made his clearest statements about his plans for the passage of recreational marijuana measures passed in Colorado and Washington, saying to Barbara Walters that prosecuting adult pot users in states that have legalized the drug won't be a top priority for his administration. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
"We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama told ABC News' Barbara Walters. "It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it's legal."
The Obama administration suggested last week that it was considering plans to undermine the voter initiatives. In his interview with Walters, Obama did not say whether his administration would go after producers and suppliers of marijuana in those states. The administration has cracked down aggressively on the medical marijuana industry in states like California and Colorado, despite its legality in those states.
A majority of Americans want the Department of Justice to leave pot smokers alone in the states where the drug has been legalized, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll.