On Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed the proclamation that officially places Amendment 64 into the constitution.


On Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed the proclamation that officially places Amendment 64 into the constitution.

Hickenlooper signs marijuana legalization proclamation for Colorado


Governor's marijuana task force

The task force will be co-chaired by Jack Finlaw, the governor’s chief legal counsel, and Barbara Brohl, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue. Its other members include:

  • Rep. Dan Pabon, appointed by the incoming Speaker of the House
  • Sen. Cheri Jahn, appointed by the incoming President of the Senate
  • Rep.-elect Dan Nordberg, appointed by the incoming House Minority Leader
  • Sen.-elect Vicki Marble, appointed by the incoming Senate Minority Leader
  • David Blake, representing the Colorado Attorney General
  • Kevin Bommer, representing the Colorado Municipal League
  • Eric Bergman, representing Colorado Counties Inc.
  • Chris Urbina, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
  • James Davis, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety
  • John Salazar, the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture
  • Ron Kammerzell, the senior director responsible for the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division
  • Christian Sederberg, representing the campaign to pass Amendment 64
  • Meg Sanders, representing the medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation industry
  • Craig Small, representing marijuana consumers
  • Sam Kamin, a person with expertise in legal issues related to the legalization of marijuana
  • Dr. Christian Thurstone, a person with expertise in the treatment of marijuana addiction
  • Charles Garcia, representing the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice
  • Larry Abrahamson, representing the Colorado District Attorney’s Council
  • Brian Connors, representing the Colorado State Public Defender
  • Daniel Zook, an at-large member from outside of the Denver area
  • Tamra Ward, representing the interests of employers
  • Mike Cerbo, representing the interests of employees

— Marijuana for recreational use became legal in Steamboat Springs and across Colorado on Monday, when the governor took the procedural step of declaring the voter-approved change part of the state constitution.

Colorado became the second state after Washington to allow pot use without a doctor's recommendation. Both states prohibit public use of the drug, and commercial sales in Colorado and Washington won't be permitted until after regulations are written next year.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, opposed the measure but had no veto power over the voter-approved amendment to the state constitution. He tweeted his declaration Monday and sent an executive order to reporters by email after the fact. That prevented a countdown to legalization as seen in Washington, where the law's supporters gathered to smoke in public to celebrate.

The law gave Hickenlooper until Jan. 5 to declare marijuana legal. He told reporters Monday he saw no reason to wait and didn't see any point in letting marijuana become legal without his proclamation.

"If the voters go out and pass something and they put it in the state constitution, by a significant margin, far be it from myself or any governor to overrule. I mean, this is why it's a democracy, right?" Hickenlooper said.

Adults over 21 in Colorado may now possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, or six plants. Public use and sale of the drug remain illegal, as does driving under the influence of marijuana.

Steamboat Springs Police Chief Joel Rae and Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins instructed their officers to stop issuing citations for minor marijuana possession in the wake of the Nov. 6 general election. Both have said their jobs are to enforce state laws, not federal laws.

Colorado and Washington officials both have asked the U.S. Department of Justice for guidance on the laws that conflict with federal drug law. So far the federal government has offered little guidance beyond stating that marijuana remains illegal and that the Controlled Substances Act will be enforced. Of special concern for state regulators is how to protect state employees who violate federal drug law by complying with state marijuana laws.

Later Monday, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh issued the following statement:

“The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington state. The Department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 10 in Colorado, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

“Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses.”

Hickenlooper also announced a state task force Monday to help craft the marijuana regulations. The 24-member task force includes law enforcement, agriculture officials and marijuana advocates.

The governor admonished the task force not to ponder whether marijuana should be legal.

"I don't think we benefit anyone by going back and turning over the same soil. Our job is to move forward," he said.

Hickenlooper told the task force to "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."

Colorado's marijuana measure, Amendment 64, was approved with 55 percent of the vote last month. Routt County voters approved it with 64 percent of the vote. The support was even stronger in Steamboat Springs city limits, where 69 percent of voters approved of marijuana legalization.

Mason Tvert, one of the authors of Amendment 64, called the declaration "truly historic."

"We are certain that this will be a successful endeavor and Colorado will become a model for other states to follow," Tvert said in a statement.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 4 months ago

Of special concern for state regulators is how to protect state employees who violate federal drug law by complying with state marijuana laws.

That is such a worthless threat. Nowhere in federal law is there any provision for treating mmj any different than mj. The theoretical threat would have also applied to those that wrote Colorado's mmj laws or monitor dispensaries and are otherwise involved with mmj.

Also, Colorado mmj laws are enough of a sincere attempt to conform to federal law (by being purely intrastate and thus removing federal jurisdiction) that not only have the feds not prosecuted any state employees for their involvement, but the feds have not even challenged in court the legality of Colorado's mmj laws.

The Holy Grail for advocates of legalizing mj would be a federal court decision agreeing that a state has found a way to remove federal jurisdiction by sufficiently prohibiting interstate commerce. That would create a blueprint for any other state to follow.

The feds have been unwilling to risk that outcome and so have not challenged the legality of Colorado's mmj laws. So now why is anyone supposed to believe the feds have unlimited powers to threaten states over legalizing mj? I predict Colorado's task force is going to write a mj retail law that dares the feds to challenge it in court. And the more likely federal response will be to talk tough while not legally challenging Colorado's mj law.


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