Colorado: Marijuana task force starts meeting Dec. 17

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The federal response to Colorado’s marijuana-legalizing Amendment 64 is still unclear. Bob Berwyn photo.

Stakeholders will develop recommendations for regulating legalized marijuana consumption and cultivation

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A state task force charged with implementing Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalizes personal consumption and cultivation of marijuana — will be working under a tight schedule, meeting weekly to develop recommendations that will be delivered to Gov. John Hickenlooper and the State Legislature no later than the end of February.

That will help set the stage for the next technical step in the process of regulating marijuana in a way similar to alcohol, with state agencies required to develop regulations for that process by July 1, according to Sean McAllister, a Breckenridge-based attorney and spokesman for Colorado NORML.

AP reporter Kristen Wyatt tweeting from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s press conference on marijuana legalization:

McAllister said the task force, representing an array of stakeholders ranging from local governments and health and safety officials to the state department of agriculture and medical marijuana providers, will meet weekly. Read the executive order establishing the task force here.

Read the executive order codifying Amendment 64 here.

AP reporter Kristen Wyatt tweeting from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s press conference on marijuana legalization:

Issues to be addressed include: the need to amend current state and local laws regarding the possession, sale, distribution or transfer of marijuana and marijuana products; regulations for 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, and the impact of Amendment 64 on employers and employees and the Colorado economy.

Additionally, McAllister said he hopes the work of the task force will send a signal to federal law enforcement officials, who still have not directly addressed how they plan to respond to Colorado’s constitutional amendment.

“I hope it shows they don’t need to interfere … that we can address issues like the concern about a black market,” McAllister said.

And since marijuana consumption is still prohibited in public, McAllister said the task force may also offer input on how to regulate what could be private establishments catering to marijuana use.

Another sticky issue could center on regulating grow operations, including size.

“A lot of us want a free market on this,” McAllister said, explaining that larger grow operations could produce more marijuana that could potentially result in lower market price, but that the state could intervene in that area.

Other discussions may focus on how the state issues licenses for grow and retail operations, and whether those regulations become a mechanism for controlling the market,” McAllister said.

“Voters were loud and clear on Election Day,” Hickenlooper said. “We will begin working immediately with the General Assembly and state agencies to implement Amendment 64.”

From the executive order establishing the task force:

“All stakeholders share an interest in creating efficient and effective regulations that provide for the responsible development of the new marijuana laws,” the Executive Order says. “As such, there is a need to create a task force through which we can coordinate and create a regulatory structure that promotes the health and safety of the people of Colorado.

”The co-chairs of the Task Force expect to form working groups, chaired by one or more members of the Task Force and comprised of persons with subject matter expertise, to aid in the group’s work.

All meetings of the Task Force and any working groups will be open to the public. The Task Force will also endeavor to solicit public comment as part of its consideration of the policy, legal and procedural issues that need to be resolved to implement Amendment 64.

The Task Force will hold its first meeting at noon Dec. 17 in the Department of Revenue Gaming Conference Room, 17301 W. Colfax Ave., Suite 135, in Golden.

Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers sent a letter on Nov. 14 to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking clarity on the federal government’s position related to Amendment 64. Colorado has not yet received a response.

“As we move forward now with implementation of Amendment 64, we will try to maintain as much flexibility as possible to accommodate the federal government’s position on the amendment,” Hickenlooper said.

Task force 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.
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