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Feds ease stance on marijuana

New Justice Department guidance gives Colorado some breathing room

A marijuana plant growing on national forest land near Winter Park ski area.

A marijuana plant growing on national forest land near Winter Park ski area.

By Bob Berwyn

*More Summit Voice coverage of marijuana laws is here

FRISCO — The U.S. Department of Justice will continue to walk a tightrope between federal and state drug laws, leaving some room for Colorado to administer legal use of marijuana, while reserving the right to prosecute violations of federal law.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Washington Governor Jay Inslee to discuss the new federal position on state marijuana laws, following up with a letter that says in part, “As we discussed, while the Department will not at this time seek to challenge your state’s law, we will neverthess continue to enforce the Controlled Substances Act in your state.” Continue reading

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Study says states can legalize marijuana despite federal ban

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How will the federal government respond to state legalization of marijuana?

Congressional Research Service analyzes various legal options for state and federal governments

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With several pending bills in Congress aimed at clarifying the role of state governments in regulating marijuana, the bipartisan Congressional Research Service recently took a swing at the issue, releasing a legal analysis aimed at helping lawmakers understand the ramifications of the proposed laws.

The analysis found that that there may some wiggle room when it comes to interpreting the Controlled Substances Act, which makes marijuana illegal under federal law. Continue reading

Will Congress act on marijuana legalization?

Proposed legislation would empower states, create tax framework

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Colorado’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry still operates in a gray area between state and federal laws.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Saying that the power to unravel the marijuana mess lies with Congress, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) this week introduced measures that would de-federalize marijuana policy and create a framework for the federal taxation of cannabis.

To provide context for the legislation, the lawmakers released a report that outlines the history of what they called the failed war on marijuana and explains that more than 100 million Americans live in jurisdictions where governments and voters have decided that some aspect of marijuana should be legally permitted. Continue reading

Colorado: Local officials eye new marijuana reality

Amendment 64 raising a lot of questions for local governments

Will Summit County get legal pot shops?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal reaction to the legalization of marijuana for personal use may be driven as much by political considerations as by legal factors, said attorney Sean McAllister, a long-time advocate on the cannabis front.

Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 by a large marging. The measure legalizes adult possession and cultivation of marijuana and directs the state to establish a system to regulate the commercial sale of marijuana for personal use. The ballot measure got 50,000 more votes than President Barack Obama in his reelection bid, and McAllister reckons that the adminstration may not be keen on alienating progressive voters by cracking down on the state. Continue reading

Breckenridge: Council eyes medical marijuana tax

New federal government rules probably won’t affect town plans

Would Breckenridge voters approve a sales tax on medical marijuana?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Breckenridge Town Council will discuss a proposed ordinance that would levy a 5 percent sales tax on retail sales of medical marijuana starting Jan. 1, 2012. The tax could generate more than $40,000 annually for the town, but is subject to approval by voters under the TABOR amendment.

In a short memo council members, town attorney Tim Berry discussed the potential implications of a recent guidance memo from the U.S. Department of Justice, which appears to take aim at large-scale medical marijuana businesses.

Berry said he doesn’t think there’s been a wholesale shift in the federal government’s stance on state-regulated medical marijuana. But the last paragraph of the memo states that, “those who knowingly facilitate” businesses engaged in the cultivation, sale or distribution of medical marijuana may be subject to federal prosecution. Continue reading

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