Our View: Pot laws are a step forward

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At Issue

State marijuana regulations

Our View

The passage of laws regulating the sale of recreational pot provides a foundation Steamboat can build on.

Just in the nick of time last week, Colorado lawmakers came together to pass legislation establishing the regulatory framework for retail marijuana business in the state. While much remains in the air — including, for example, whether Colorado voters will approve this fall marijuana excise and sales taxes that will raise money for school construction and pot industry oversight, respectively — there are some fundamental positives about the bills approved Wednesday.

Significantly for Steamboat Springs, Routt County and other municipalities, the laws provide at least a regulatory foundation on which they can build. Last November’s passage of Amendment 64 very clearly legalized the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and older, but the constitutional amendment left it up to the state to work out regulations for the operation of recreational marijuana businesses. The state was up against a July 1 deadline to create such regulations.

The uncertainties created angst for cities like Steamboat, where the most common approach has been of the let’s-wait-and-see variety, keeping one eye on the state Legislature and the other on the federal government and its Justice Department, which still hasn’t taken a public position on retail marijuana trade in Colorado.

If nothing else comes of the recently passed state bills, at the very least we hope they push the issue of marijuana legalization to its next logical step. We’ve previously supported the legalization of small amounts of marijuana so that our legal and justice systems no longer waste taxpayer time and money on such trivial cases. We also like Amendment 64’s provisions giving local governments the ultimate say in how marijuana businesses are regulated, or even whether they’re allowed. With a system now somewhat in place for overseeing marijuana businesses at the state level, cities like Steamboat can fine tune the particulars to match the will of their residents.

Colorado made history last week by becoming the first state in the country to establish regulations for retail marijuana businesses. Only time will tell whether it’s a good move for our state, but at least it seems likely to move Colorado, and the nation, closer to clarity on the future of marijuana and its status as a criminalized narcotic.

Comments

Robert Chase 1 year, 4 months ago

The pot laws are a step forward?!? No, they represent the ongoing war of the anti-cannabis political Establishment against Amendment 64. We the People just declared that cannabis "should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol", yet the Task Force supposed to implement the Amendment produced supposed "consensus recommendations" that left all the felonies for cannabis -- the Class 5, Class 4, Class 3, and even Class 2 felonies for conduct involving cannabis (killing someone in a rage is a Class 2 felony) -- in place in Title 18, Article 18 of the C.R.S. It is a misdemeanor to violate the Liquor Code (C.R.S. Title 12, Article 47). Now SB13-283 passes the buck back to the ineffectual Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ), an institution packed with fascist DAs and law enforcement -- for more "study". Colorado is charging ahead to license activities for which it will still be making felons of its citizens next January -- with no plans to stop! It is obscene to take up the commercial regulaton of cannabis embodied in HB13-1317 while the letter and spirit of the Constitution is in direct conflict with the criminal statutes. HB13-1317 also contains a blatantly unconstitutional rider that asserts an unscientific standard for driving impairment by THC.

The tax bill represents the fruition of all the confabulated fears stirred by the prohibitionists; not content with the up-to-15% excise tax offered in the Amendment, they now have the gall to ask for an extraordinary 10% sales tax surcharge on top of that. Despite the facts that cannabis is very much safer than alcohol, and that society will only save money by not trying to suppress its use or persecute its users, the Amendment offered a 15% excise tax as an added benefit. I find the proposed sales tax surcharge (on top of the State sales tax of 2.9% + local option sales taxes) to be genuinely offensive; advanced to aggrandize bad players, and for the purpose of driving consumers back to the black market -- the opposite of the intent of the Amendment. I would have supported the excise tax, but the General Assembly's shameful performance has convinced me to vote against all the taxes. All felony investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and trials for cannabis must be stopped immediately and Colorado's Revised Statutes must be made to comport with Article XVIII, Section 16 of our Constitution -- the General Assembly just failed even to consider doing so. Prohibition is not over in Colorado: all the felony statutes against cannabis remain in full force despite Amendment 64.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Robert,

The excise and sales tax can be rejected by the voters. I think there is a good chance it will be defeated because it puts retail mj at such a cost disadvantage to dispensaries and illegal dealers. Sort of defeats the purpose of legalization.

Criminal laws are not going to go away because the interstate smuggling trade is still illegal and not wanted. The illegal trade is involved with interstate dealing The voters didn't choose to make Colorado a sanctuary for interstate drug smugglers.

The driving standard is going to be a problem because physical impairment is not very clearly linked to THC in the bloodstream. With all the baby boomers getting older and all of the prescription drugs with their possible side effects, there really needs to be a better roadside driver impairment test.

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Robert Chase 1 year, 4 months ago

The two taxes will be separate referred initiatives. I very much hope that voters reject the sales tax surcharge. Criminal laws against cannabis are not going away because an enormous class of parasites derives its income from them, and because the man on the street imagines that cannabis already is legal in Colorado. The felony statutes proscribing cannabis are in direct conflict with the letter and the spirit of Article XVIII, Section 16 of our Constitution, and police, judges, and, most especially, jurors should take cognizance of this. A project to educate jurors is planned. Voters should get a clue, then convey it to their idiot representatives.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 4 months ago

Hey Scott, Who cares what you think. You just want to bloviate. I agree with Jerry and Rhys. We should just ignore you. So I am joining the conspiracy. Cheers, Dan

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Robert -- Thank you for pointing out some of the glaring inconsistencies in the law. Let us hope they are corrected in the months and years to come, and God Bless those poor souls who will suffer in the process. The voter outweighs the demagogue, right? It's our RIGHT, we amended our Constitution, and the blue laws will die by the wayside, all in due time. That the State thinks they can "regulate" the business is hilarious in the extreme; the gate is open and the animals got out. And if they price themselves out of the market through taxes and fees, everybody loses but the doper and the dealer. (big smile here) "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges."

Dan -- We may not silence the babble, but we certainly don't have to encourage it.

Jerry -- (sidebar digression from another thread) Yeah Rockies. They're just lucky I'm not the batting coach -- I'd send Troy down to AA the next time he watches three strikes go by. My guys would be swinging at balls, before watching Strike 3 -- you've got to WANT to hit the ball!! My batting coach SAID he taught Harmon Killebrew how to bat, and the closest Rockie to his style is Michael Cuddyer -- look how he holds the bat, basically straight up -- unfortunately on IR right now. That guy can hit!!

And GO WARRIORS!! Now I know how medeival villages felt when overrun by huns -- if ya can't beat em, join em, they're OUR huns now, and you always want to lose to the best, right?

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Robert Chase 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks. I put in a few hours trying to communicate with posters on Denver's craigslist who implied they would deliver cannabis to adults (often by writing "Amendment 64 compliant") to inform them of their peril. It did take a fair investment of time, but I (briefly) succeeded in reducing the number of such ads; several posters wrote "thank-you", and one, "bless you". Another, the "Cannabis Club of Denver" adopted an extremely defensive posture, insisting (to me, an activist against Prohibition) that they were not selling cannabis, and disdaining to accept me as a member because they feared that I wanted to out or politicize their members (had I joined, the probablity that I would have attempted to engage the members in political discussion would have approached one) -- the principals were arrested a couple of weeks later. This sort of educational effort could prevent many arrests and felony convictions, but it will have to be pursued until the General Assembly heeds the Constitution. I tried to interest both Sensible Colorado and the MMIG in supporting a public outreach to deter arrests (also acting against the illegal market and supporting the legal one, which are ostensible aims of both organizations) -- neither has the slightest interest.

Defendants should repudiate all the threats made by fascist prosecutors and take their cannabis cases to trial -- jurors should vote to acquit. Prohibitionists should acquire and study the book "Final Exit".

P.S. Read about the case of Pritchard Garrett and the representations of the Colorado Springs Police Department which led to his arrest:

http://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/colorado-springs-pot-delivery-may-be-illegal/Content?oid=2619110

http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2013/02/12/marijuana-local-delivery-company-raided-by-police

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Robert -- Thanks again for the info, it's certainly enlightening. Wouldn't it be great if a State case made it to the Supreme Court, and the issue wasn't a conflict with Federal law, but inconsistencies within our own code? Didn't our vote nullify a lot of felonies? Would somebody challenge this PLEASE?? That guy in the Springs is on the railroad now, shaky ground even in my eye, rather daring the authorities; it may take a High Court to save him. (ha ha)

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jerry carlton 1 year, 4 months ago

Rhys I mostly lose interest when my team loses in the playoffs but I would find it hard to root against David Robinson. As far as I know he has always been a class act.

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Jerry -- The Spurs have always been a class act, perennial contenders. Is David Robinson still active with that organization? Tim Duncan carries on admirably in his absence, and they were a force together. Tony Parker is phenomenal, Ginobelli, the bench...

I would think you would be pulling for the Warriors, since they seem Divinely Inspired, from the head coach on down...

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Tim Duncan. David Robinson retired. Both are class acts.

Amendment 64 did not nullify marijuana felonies because that sort of drug dealing is still illegal. Colorado had already decriminalized possessing less than an ounce of pot so no one is in jail for doing what is now legal. And even if Amendment 64 did legalize drug dealing then those people in jail for dealing still broke the laws at the time of their crime. There is a potential inconsistency with Amendment 64 for those cited with possession of less than an ounce after it was passed, but before it took effect.

The guys that thought they could sell pot on Craigslist deserve life for being too stupid to have freedom. But assuming they didn't also violate gun laws (such as concealed without a permit) then see what they end up pleading to. It won't be life. It probably won't even be jail time. The police and DA just want to be sure to shut down the theory that selling pot is legal if you split it into one ounce bags and claim the buyer is paying for something else. That sort of theory is no different from various sales tax avoidance schemes (paying for a nontaxable service, not the item) that have been soundly rejected by the courts.

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mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

"The guys that thoght they could sell pot on Craigslist deserve life..."

I suppose they should get a cell right next to the guy who killed and injured dozens in the theatre or the monster who killed 20 kids?

The stupid shines through in the "anti-death penalty" crowd when you consider how, without the death penalty, their version of "punishment" is life in prison for pot or for killing 20 kids.

Either crime carries equal punishment?

STUPID

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

You quote half of a joke and make it sound like I was being serious.

The busted seller brought up the topic of a life sentence.

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Mark -- In total agreement. Did you hear about the latest conspiracy? Members refuse to even acknowledge such arrogance, ignorance, and naivete, let alone respond to it -- although we have to occasionally forgive one for falling to the almost-irresistable temptation. Are you in the club?

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mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

Not clear what you're talking about. Want to elaborate? Then I'll know if I'm in the club or not...

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

I WOULD like to hear from an actual expert in the matter. Bill, got any thoughts on this? I will concede at the outset, the laws as they exist are probably great -- a well-regulated system of growers and retailers, the State raking their excise for the schools -- while cautioning the drawbacks, a well-entrenched infrastructure already. One question arises: Does the regular citizen now enjoy the rights formerly granted the mmj patient? To wit:

Colorado Constitution Article XVII Section 14 (4)(b) For quantities of marijuana in excess of these amounts, a patient or his or her primary care-giver may raise as an affirmative defense to charges of violation of state law that such greater amounts were medically necessary to address the patient's debilitating medical condition.

We all hurt, Doc.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

From Amendment 64: (3) Personal use of marijuana. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, THE FOLLOWING ACTS ARE NOT UNLAWFUL AND SHALL NOT BE AN OFFENSE UNDER COLORADO LAW OR THE LAW OF ANY LOCALITY WITHIN COLORADO OR BE A BASIS FOR SEIZURE OR FORFEITURE OF ASSETS UNDER COLORADO LAW FOR PERSONS TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER: (a) POSSESSING, USING, DISPLAYING, PURCHASING, OR TRANSPORTING MARIJUANA ACCESSORIES OR ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA.

There is no provision for an affirmative defense of needing more than one ounce. Presumably, while there can be a medical need for a mmj patient to have more than an ounce, there is no need for a recreational user to have more than ounce.

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mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

I wonder how many folks who want to have tons more weed than they "need" are among those who don't want me to have guns that I don't "need"??

Whenever I hear someone saying that it is ok to prohibit something because it is not "needed" my first and only thought is what a completely hopeless IDIOT that person must be.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO INTRODUCE INTO A SOCIETY, A PHILOSOPHY MORE DEADLY TO PERSONAL LIBERTY THAN THAT OF PRESCRIBING INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS ON THE BASIS OF "NEED". One need only visit the nearest zoo to see the end of such thinking.

How well did Dostoevsky speak of the American Sheeple when he penned these words:

"In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us." [...] Receiving bread from us, they will see clearly that we take the bread made by their hands from them, to give it to them, without any miracle. [...] in truth they will be more thankful for taking it from our hands than for the bread itself. [...] They will marvel at us and will be awe-stricken before us, and will be proud at our being so powerful and clever that we have been able to subdue such a turbulent flock of thousands of millions."

--Fyodor Dostoevsky, "The Grand Inquisitor"

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Mark -- You continue to surprise me. Who has time to read? After tech manuals and forum babble, I'm ready for a break -- maybe a murder mystery, or a western -- CERTAINLY not philosophy.

Thanks again for picking up our slack; I was sorely tempted, but I figured one idiot yapping was better than two... didn't want to feed the monster... while you covered the bases admirably. Thank you!!

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James Earley, MCSE 1 year, 4 months ago

Work, baseball, and westerns. My life in that order. BTW I had not one but two questions on TV for text the booth Saturday!

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Professional sports: Opiates for men. The world may be falling apart, but right now the Cubs are our real problem. Will Troy see a pitch he likes? Tune in, folks!!

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

I should hasten to clarify... I know Troy is one of the top batters in the NL... I'm just sayin' -- he sure gets fanned a lot looking -- and with his natural ability -- if he were to be more aggressive at the plate, it would sure help the Rockies, not to mention his own numbers. Ah, the Boys of Summer are back. Sorry, now back to "real life."

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Mark,

Virtually no one besides drug dealers has any issue with possession for recreational use being limited to one ounce.

Not sure why you think guns has any connection to marijuana because marijuana is highly regulated. If guns were as regulated as marijuana then the NRA would not be happy.

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john bailey 1 year, 4 months ago

wow. I've never seen scott at a loss for words. 50 that's all? must be a conspiracy happening some where.......<3

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jerry carlton 1 year, 4 months ago

Rhys Sure David Robinson retired. My addled old brain lives in the past half the time. Just cannot bring myself to root for anyone that knocked the Nuggets out. I did root for Tony Dungy when he was coaching as long as he was not playing the Broncos, and I will root for anyone Tebow plays for unless it is against the Broncos.

Mark on another discussion conspiracies came up so I decided to start a conspiracy to ignore another unnamed poster who comments on 98% of what is posted. So far myself, Rhys and Dan have joined. Since I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times and Rhys has fallen once, I am now calling it a conspiracy support group and we help each other through rough patches.

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Jerry -- No biggie, I think we've all brain-farted in here at least once. Your point is well-taken; the Spurs have been a quality franchise for decades now, of particular frustration to myself on many occasions, whether I was rooting for the Nuggets (usually) or Suns (Chuck days, Nugs sucked). They've been knocking my guys out of the playoffs with regularity. Tonight should be fun -- isn't their back against the wall?

You can't blame Mark for pointing out obvious blather; I was tempted to do it myself. SOMEBODY needs to do it; should we have tag teams? This is the Conspiracy Club, Mark, to which you are invited to join. The challenge is in crafting a non-response which nonetheless is. Making refutation that much more difficult. We may not be able to cap the well, but maybe we can regulate the spurts.

Now on to lighter subjects... the Rockies are knocking the cover off the ball in Chicago, early on, even Tulo is swinging the bat, maybe it'll be a good night...

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jerry carlton 1 year, 4 months ago

I watched the Rockies last night during commercials. They look like chumps one night and World Series material the next. Of course they have a history of winning 15 games in a row and then losing 10.

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

"during commercials"? So you were watching NBA full-time? And now I must correct a misstatement in my above post -- before someone else does -- I thought that series was 3-1, not 2-2 -- and now it's the Warriors with their backs against the wall. Just two comments: -- Tony Parker, and -- Chuck says "Mark Gasol is the best center in the NBA." (Memphis) So it looks like a thrilling West finals, whatever the matchup.

Yes the Rockies looked great last night, knocking the ball all over. I just backspaced-out a comment re/batting, not wanting to appear obsessed myself... let's see what happens tonight!!

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Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 4 months ago

Hard to watch basketball these days. What is travelling, what is a foul. I just try to watch the last 3 minutes or so. Then I don't get all worked up about the officiating. I was too short and too slow to play much hoops anyway. Prefer to watch baseball. Can multitask while the game is on. Short naps are great. Played a lot of baseball. Short and slow was ok if you could hit. Sorry to those who wanted a pot post. The law has passed, now we get to sit and watch the goofballs in Denver figure stuff out. That will be fun.

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