GOLDEN, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – Recreational marijuana may be legal in Colorado, but regulation of the drug is just beginning.
Colorado began crafting pot regulations Monday, when a 24-member task force appointed by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper started work. The first order of business was the toughest – figuring out how to regulate a drug that’s never been regulated before and is still illegal under federal law.
“We’ve got a lot of work in front of us,” said Jack Finlaw, a lawyer to the governor and a co-chairman of the marijuana task force. The group includes doctors, lawyers, drug addiction specialists, state lawmakers and marijuana users and growers.
The job is daunting. With no federal guidance, Colorado and Washington state, which also legalized pot this month, must go it alone regulating the drug. The states are writing their own rules for making sure the drug is produced safely, kept away from children and taxed for the first time. The states are trying to keep consumers safe, but not make regulation of the drug so involved that pot smokers and sellers stay in the black market.
Another problem for the task force will be overcoming many members’ opposition to legalizing the drug.
“We won’t be engaging in debate on the merits of this amendment. We just need to move forward,” said Barbara Brohl, executive director of Colorado’s Revenue Department, which currently regulates alcohol and medical marijuana sales.
The task force decided to break into five smaller groups to examine how to begin regulating pot. The group spent two hours just rattling off questions to answer about regulating pot.
For example, should marijuana that is smoked be treated like marijuana that is eaten? Should recreational pot play a role in child custody cases? Should state regulators control how marijuana is advertised? Is there a way to legally limit the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC?
Task force members have five more meetings before suggesting recommendations to the governor. Lawmakers will ultimately have to sign off on marijuana regulations adopted by the Revenue Department.
The Department of Revenue must adopt the regulations by July, with sales possible by year’s end. The task force will examine the need for “stopgap regulations” until commercial sales begin. At the moment, marijuana is legal but there’s no legal way to acquire it without a doctor’s recommendation.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
Who’s On The Panel?
State officials recently released the names of everyone on the Task Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64 in a news release:
The Task Force will be co-chaired by Jack Finlaw, the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, and Barbara Brohl, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue. There will be 24 total members:
– Rep. Dan Pabon, appointed by the incoming Speaker of the House;
– Sen. Cheri Jahn, appointed by the incoming President of the Senate;
– Rep.-elect Dan Nordberg, appointed by the incoming House Minority Leader;
– Sen.-elect Vicki Marble, appointed by the incoming Senate Minority Leader;
– David Blake, representing the Colorado Attorney General;
– Kevin Bommer, representing the Colorado Municipal League;
– Eric Bergman, representing Colorado Counties Inc.;
– Chris Urbina, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment;
– James Davis, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety;
– John Salazar, the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture;
– Ron Kammerzell, the Senior Director responsible for the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division;
– Christian Sederberg, representing the campaign to pass Amendment 64;
– Meg Sanders, representing the medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation industry;
– Craig Small, representing marijuana consumers;
– Sam Kamin, a person with expertise in legal issues related to the legalization of marijuana;
– Dr. Christian Thurstone, a person with expertise in the treatment of marijuana addiction;
– Charles Garcia, representing the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice;
– Larry Abrahamson, representing the Colorado District Attorney’s Council;
– Brian Connors, representing the Colorado State Public Defender;
– Daniel Zook, an at-large member from outside of the Denver area;
– Tamra Ward, representing the interests of employers; and
– Mike Cerbo, representing the interests of employees.
Issues The Task Force Will Address
The state of Colorado also outlined the issued the task force is expected to take on:
– The need to amend current state and local laws regarding the possession, sale, distribution or transfer of marijuana and marijuana products to conform them to Amendment 64’s decriminalization provisions
– The need for new regulations for such things as security requirements for marijuana establishments and for labeling requirements
– Education regarding long-term health effects of marijuana use and harmful effects of marijuana use by those under the age of 18
– The impact of Amendment 64 on employers and employees and the Colorado economy
– The task force will look at big-picture regulation questions, including which alcohol regulations make sense for use on pot
– Marijuana regulators will examine what counties and cities can do to regulate recreational marijuana
– Marijuana regulators will tackle how to make sure pot taxes are collected and how to help the industry access banking services
– Marijuana users can expect a long list of usage rules, including an analogy to “open container” alcohol laws
– Marijuana regulators need to figure out how to keep the state’s marijuana supply safe and how to keep the drug away from minors
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