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Colorado Lawmakers Work To Reconcile Marijuana Legalization With Federal Law

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4)- There is a standoff between Colorado and the federal government over the recent approval of Amendment 64 which legalizes marijuana.

Right now the federal government refuses to say whether it will intervene to prevent the law from taking effect.

Democrat and Republican lawmakers are joining forces to fulfill voters’ wishes even if they don’t support the law.

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat, and Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, have come together on a bill that ensures federal law doesn’t preempt state law in this case.

Democratic Representatives Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter have composed a letter to the Department of Justice warning it would be a mistake to prosecute people in compliance with Colorado law.

As Colorado’s congressional delegation works to reconcile state law with federal law, state lawmakers said they can’t wait until the legislature begins in January 2013. They are already putting together a bi-partisan task force to figure out everything from taxation to regulation.

“You have all the how does it go from grow, where you’re growing the marijuana, have to regulate that as you would regulate any agriculture product, to supply chain and how it gets through the supply chain and the point of sale, that all has to be figured out and regulated,” said incoming Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino.

He believes the charge is considerable. Ferrandino is also concerned that all the effort may be wasted if the federal government is not on board.

“The fear is we get down that road, spend time and the feds come and say ‘Oh, no, I’m sorry. We’re going to sue you and not allow you to go ahead with that.’ It would be great if they would take a position early on,” said Ferrandino.

The feds appear to be waiting first to see how the state will proceed.

Ferrandino said the lawmakers charge, regardless of their position on Amendment 64 is clear, “The people in this state have spoken loudly and clearly and we need to advocate for where they come from.”

Ferrandino has a meeting scheduled with Gov. John Hickenlooper next week on the staffing of the task force.

Hickenlooper spoke by phone with U.S. Attorney Eric Holder last week and this week sent him a letter asking him to make a decision “as soon as possible.”

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