Our View: Pot laws are a step forward
May 11, 2013
State marijuana regulations
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.