Local marijuana advocate calls Department of Justice memo ‘powerful’ guidance | SteamboatToday.com

Local marijuana advocate calls Department of Justice memo ‘powerful’ guidance

— It still is too early for Kevin Fisher to give any high-fives, but the Steamboat Springs marijuana advocate was encouraged Thursday by a U.S. Department of Justice memo stating that the feds would not clamp down on recreational marijuana use in states where it has been legalized.

"This is the most powerful piece of guidance that we've gotten from the federal authorities yet on marijuana," said Fisher, the co-owner of Rocky Mountain Remedies who helped write the state's rules regarding the commercialization of marijuana.

The memo outlines eight issues about which the federal government does have concerns. The memo hints that the feds would convene if there are problems in Colorado and Washington, such as if marijuana is being distributed to minors.

"They're telling us to pass the tax in Colorado, implement what you have in writing and we'll see how things go," said Fisher, who added that the tax would allow the state to fund the regulation of marijuana. "Make sure that you are funding it and (regulation) boots are on the street, and we're going to back off."

Although the memo might be another victory for marijuana legalization advocates, Fisher said that the fight is not over and that it is still important for federal legislation to change so it recognizes state laws.

"That's when you high-five," Fisher said.

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While Colorado legalized marijuana with the November passage of Amendment 64, in the feds’ eyes, marijuana remains highly illegally per the federal Controlled Substance Act. It shares the Schedule 1 drug classification with drugs such as acid and heroin.

The memo was released just days before a Sept. 10 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to explain the administration’s stance on marijuana.

Fisher thinks the memo was in response to the hearing scheduled by Leahy, who has called for the federal government to respect the marijuana laws adopted in Colorado and Washington.

By Jan. 1, Fisher hopes to be selling marijuana for recreational use out of a commercial space between downtown and the mountain area. The consumption and possession of marijuana remains illegal for those younger than 21.

Read more about the memo and how it affects Colorado at The Denver Post.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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