DENVER (CBS4)– With the passage of Amendment 64, both Colorado and the federal government are heading into uncharted territory with the enforcement and regulation of marijuana laws.
Voters in Colorado approved Amendment 64 on Tuesday. The measure allows those 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of the drug at specially-regulated retail stores.
Adults could grow up to six marijuana plants on their property. Amendment 64 also sets up a direct challenge to federal drug law, which regulates marijuana as an illegal substance. Federal authorities have not said how they will respond.
Until the governor’s office certifies the election results, which could take a few weeks, the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal.
Former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said even though Colorado voters approved the measure, the federal government will have no problem reminding them who is in charge.
“The feds will have to pick and choose what they do but ultimately it’s going to be made very clear to businesses and individuals of Colorado that they can’t act this way,” said Eid.
Eid doesn’t foresee a big increase in people getting busted for small amounts of marijuana. He said the feds will be thinking much bigger.
“What I think will happen is federal law will be followed. Federal law says you focus on the big fish. The major traffickers. You also focus on matters of community concern,” said Eid.
Issues like people trying to sell to minors. The ones who are bused will make for some interesting case studies in the courts, where despite Colorado law, Eid believes they won’t have a chance.
“There’s no legal basis for them to uphold violation of federal law based on state law. Federal law is supreme, it says in the Constitution,” said Eid.
Eid believes the court cases will force the federal government to address the issue. In the end, they will be the only ones who can change a decades-old drug policy on marijuana.
“This is going to have to play out on a political level. So what we need is the president and congress to step up and start to discuss the issue,” said Eid.