Tue March 12, 2013

Colorado Lawmakers To Take Up Issue of Pot Regulation

Voters approved the recreational use of marijuana last November, but it’s now up to Colorado lawmakers to figure out how the drug should be grown, sold and taxed.

A newly appointed committee of House and Senate lawmakers could began their work as early as this week.

The appointment came last week after a task force appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper made their own recommendations on how to regulate the drug.

Interview Highlights…

On why the legislature created a new committee…

“It does have some people asking why, especially Republicans. This group was appointed to look at the Amendment 64 task force and now that this group has had its last meeting this new committee with people appointed by Speaker’s Mark Ferrandino and Senate President John Morse are going to be reviewing everything. So that’s the reason for the second committee. Republicans are balking a little bit saying it’s a waste of time and the initial committee really did its work and came up with about 75 different recommendations for the legislature.”

If lawmakers have enough time to come up rules during the time left in the session…

“There’s a major number of proposals that the task force sent to the legislature – everything from creating an excise tax of 15 percent paid by marijuana stores to requiring state approval for those stores. So it is going to be a burdensome thing and this is not going to be easy. Legislators think they can get through it. There is also a special session available – I have not heard any talk about that. But I think legislators will probably start tackling this in the next week or two.”

On members of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation re-introducing bipartisan legislation to respect states’ rights on marijuana…

“This is a bill in Congress sponsored by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) who formally introduced the legislation in Congress. It’s supposed to resolve the uncertainty around states legalizing marijuana which is still remains illegal at the federal level. She doesn’t want the federal government denying any money to Colorado or taking punitive steps towards its citizens because of that vote. And she’s being joined by Mike Coffman (R-Aurora). He says he voted against Amendment 64 and he does not support the legalization of pot but he says he has an obligation to support the will of the voters who clearly passed this by 2 to 1 back in November.”

Jody Hope Strogoff is the publisher of the Colorado Statesman.