Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher stands outside his Steamboat Springs business. As a business owner, Fisher said, he is concerned about the implications of legalization of recreational marijuana.

Photo by John F. Russell

Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher stands outside his Steamboat Springs business. As a business owner, Fisher said, he is concerned about the implications of legalization of recreational marijuana.

Steamboat dispensary owner questions marijuana legalization

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For more information about the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, visit www.regulatemarijuana.org.

— A state ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana possession for recreational use is getting a lukewarm reaction from the owner of Steamboat Springs’ largest medical marijuana dispensary.

Although he supports adult recreational marijuana use, Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher said legalizing pot for all Colorado adults could jeopardize the business model he and other state dispensary owners have worked hard to create. Specifically, Fisher said he’s concerned approval of a system that permits recreational marijuana use would lead to increased federal intervention in Colorado.

“While we support adult access to cannabis in any form, we’re not sure supporting this initiative is right at this time,” Fisher said last week.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office announced last week that it had certified a ballot initiative that would decriminalize adult recreational marijuana use. Amendment 64 would allow adults 21 and older to possess as much as 1 ounce of marijuana and grow six plants in their homes. It also would create a regulatory system.

Mason Tvert, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said federal intervention isn’t a concern. His group is the one that led the effort to get Amendment 64 on the ballot.

“The feds don’t enforce state statutes,” Tvert said. “They don’t have DEA agents on the streets arresting adults for possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana. They don’t have U.S. attorneys going before federal judges to prosecute petty cases. Essentially, if this initiative passes, marijuana will be legal for adults. We hope the federal government won’t prevent Colorado from trying to control it.”

It’s too early to say whether federal agencies and the Obama administration would agree.

The federal stance

The Obama administration has taken a generally hands-off approach to medical marijuana if patients are in compliance with laws in the 16 states, including Colorado, that permit it. But the administration said it would enforce federal drug laws in California if voters approved Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana in 2010. That measure failed.

Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, couldn’t say last week whether federal authorities would intervene in Colorado if voters approve Amendment 64.

“The Department of Justice is conducting a legal review of the proposed amendment, assessing its options,” Dorschner said via email. “Beyond that, I cannot comment.”

Although on a smaller scale, some Colorado municipalities already have decriminalized recreational marijuana use. One of the more notable examples is Breckenridge, which in November 2009 passed a measure allowing adults 21 and older to possess as much as 1 ounce of marijuana. Nearly 71 percent of Breckenridge voters supported the measure.

Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said some visitors said they wouldn’t return to Breckenridge if the measure was approved, but he said last week that hasn’t happened. And he said the town’s police chief hasn’t reported any more issues with marijuana than before it was decriminalized.

With the exception of the occasional person who walks down Main Street smoking a joint because they think it’s legal, Warner said marijuana hasn’t been a problem in Breckenridge.

“I have not seen a degradation of our lifestyle, law and order, etc.,” he said.

What it would mean

If approved, Amendment 64 would require that the Colorado Department of Revenue adopt regulations that establish an application, licensing and renewal process and fee schedule for retail marijuana establishments. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries could transition to retail shops.

The Department of Revenue also would be tasked to create security rules for retail establishments, labeling requirements for marijuana and marijuana-infused products and health and safety standards for marijuana cultivation and product manufacturing. It also could limit advertising and create civil penalties for violating regulations.

Amendment 64 would allow state lawmakers to impose an excise tax up to 15 percent on marijuana sales. The first

$40 million generated from that would be dedicated to the state’s Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund.

The measure would allow local municipalities to ban retail establishments. And it wouldn’t permit driving under the influence of marijuana.

Tvert added that Amendment 64 also addresses legal cultivation of industrial hemp, which would create a new industry that he said could lead to job creation.

Other pro-marijuana groups have indicated they would seek the more than 86,000 signatures necessary to put a separate legalization measure on the November ballot.

Messing with medical

Steamboat’s Fisher, who acknowledged that legalization likely would expand his customer base, questioned what the passage of Amendment 64 would mean for patient access to medical marijuana.

In 2000, Colorado voters approved the use of marijuana for people with certain medical conditions and the recommendation of a doctor. State lawmakers adopted a comprehensive medical marijuana regulatory and taxing system in 2009 and updated it in 2010.

Tvert said Amendment 64 proposes a parallel system to the state’s existing medical marijuana laws. He said medical marijuana has demonstrated that Colorado can regulate and tax it without significant issues while providing safe access and limiting the underground market.

A statewide measure to legalize marijuana failed in 2006, with 59 percent of voters rejecting it.

Fisher said the state’s medical marijuana industry has come a long way in a short time. He didn’t want anything to jeopardize his business, which now employs 40 people.

“We still have plenty of growing pains on the medical side on the local, state and federal levels,” he said. “Moving forward with the retail model for recreational use, I’m not sure where we sit. I don’t want to go to federal prison.”

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

rhys jones 2 years, 7 months ago

The cat's out of the bag -- there is no monopoly -- it is widely available -- if anything, this might bring MORE customers into Kevin's store, since they won't need that silly "license."

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 7 months ago

With the administration promising to enforce federal statutes in the event any states pass their own legalization, it should be fun to watch. Gonna pop some corn and enjoy the show.

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JJ Southard 2 years, 7 months ago

Pop some pills and enjoy the show? Oh wait, you said corn, corn, riiiiight corn. Ahmmm

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Clay Ogden 2 years, 7 months ago

Sep's right ... this'll be fun to watch.

The MMJ dispensary owners had to know it was a high risk venture from the start ...

"Fisher said the state’s medical marijuana industry has come a long way in a short time. He didn’t want anything to jeopardize his business, which now employs 40 people."

Welcome to a capitalist economy. This is where the measure of risk and reward becomes interesting.

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Rico Colibri 2 years, 7 months ago

The real issue is federal preemption so his concerns are valid and no medical treatment provider is about any thing but profit. So we shouldn't hold MMJ to a higher standard IMO. Both the Beinor and Watkyns cases are now the law of the land and amendment 64 does not address either case as the rulings were after amendment 64 had title set. Simply put amendment 64 cannot be implemented legally. Additionally amendment 64 leaves 98% of the laws created to enforce the federal prohibition of MJ on the books and stops no felony arrests and would even bar you from having what ever you grow at your home as vaguely suggested in amendment 64.

You have to ask your self what is prohibition legally speaking and what does this do to "stop" it? The answer is very very little if any thing at all. Most people think with their emotions and that is not how the law works. The majority of those arrested are young males of color below 21 and this provides no relief for them at all. Amendment 64 does not "regulate marijuana like alcohol" legally speaking and any one who wants to debate that can listen to the proponents admit that themselves at the title board hearings which were recorded and posted on the secretary of state site here

http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/info_center/audioArchives.html

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rhys jones 2 years, 7 months ago

Think you know our country? Here's a little quiz for you, 33 questions. Average score 49% college profs 55%

http://www.isi.org/quiz.aspx?q=FE5C3B47-9675-41E0-9CF3-072BB31E2692

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 7 months ago

Oops. Mom got 60.61%. I got 63.64%. What do we win??????

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

" You answered 30 out of 33 correctly — 90.91 %

If you have any comments or questions about the quiz, please email americancivicliteracy@isi.org.

You can consult the following table to see how citizens and elected officials scored on each question.  "

That's after 4 Coronas (and no cheating). Would I do better if I had partoken in some Sour Diesel? (Can't wait for this to be deleted.)

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jerry carlton 2 years, 7 months ago

I got 29/33 87.88%. I went to school from 1950 to 1962 before the moral disintegration of the country accelerated, and alcohol and pot became the norm in high school.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 7 months ago

Good job, Jeff! Quick, everybody, go check out the sunset!

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

When I was scraping through college, washing dishes and slinging breakfast at some highfalutin sorority at UW, I came across a flyer posted by the Psych Dept.

"Earn $100 taking intelligence tests."

Turns out it's IQ tests while sober, then drunk, then toked up. The Budweiser sucked. I scored in some ballistic percentile.

Hell, all it proves is that I'm adept at multiple-choice tests. In so many other aspects of life I am completely inept and proudly proclaim cluelessness.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 7 months ago

Best score on a typing test I ever got was after a giant margarita ... 102 wpm, no mistakes. I was VERY relaxed, ha ha ha!

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

Phoebe: Dang, your typing speed is lowerbetter than my golf score.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 7 months ago

I got 32/33 96.97%. I went to school after the moral disintegration of the country accelerated.

Though, alcohol and pot was not the norm in my high school. Maybe it was after school, but not "in school".

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John Fielding 2 years, 7 months ago

. Scott, what does this have to do with the papers anonymity policy, your self proclaimed limitation of your commentary?

BTW of the 3 I missed, I maintain that some other choices are also correct. For instance, if spending equals revenues, debt is zero is correct in the sense that no debt is generated, therefore zero unless it exists as a separate condition therefore not relevant to the equation. .

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 7 months ago

Two strangers are sitting in adjacent seats in an airplane. One guy says to the other, "Let's talk. I hear that the flight will go faster if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger." The other guy, who had just opened a good book, closes it slowly, takes off his glasses and asks, "What would you like to discuss?" The first guy says, "Oh, I don't know; how about Quantum Physics?" The other guy says, "OK, that could make for some pretty interesting conversation. But let me ask you a question first: A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff, but the deer excretes pellets; the cow, big patties; and the horse, clumps of dried grass. Why is that?" The first guy says, "I don't know." The other guy says, "Oh? Well then, do you really think you're qualified to discuss Quantum Physics when you don't know $h1t?"

Everybody has an area of expertise. Geography and politics are complete mysteries to me, but let me know if you have any questions about the English language or nutrition. And I've never been able to duplicate that typing score.

Oh, highwaystar, now you've made us go way off topic. It's all your fault. Where's yvb when we need him?

Feed the birds :-)

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

OK, compare and contrast homonyms versus heteronyms.

LOL, BTW. Nice synopsis.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 7 months ago

Knew Scott Wedel could not stay away. He is slowly being sucked back into the quicksand.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 7 months ago

Heteronyms are allowed to marry anywhere; Federal law prohibits marriage of homonyms, although it is legal in some states and recognized in others. :-)

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Jeff_Kibler 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, right. "... politics are complete mysteries to me ..." Too damn funny!!! :-)))

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rhys jones 2 years, 7 months ago

I think Society has long since recognized the inherent advantages of heteronymism as opposed to its polar opposite, homonymism. Though scholars vary on this point.

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