Election 2012

How Legal Will Pot Be in Colorado and How Soon?

Amendment 64, the marijuana legalization initiative that Colorado voters approved yesterday, must be signed into law within 30 days by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has indicated he will do so.

|

Amendment 64, the marijuana legalization initiative that Colorado voters approved yesterday, must be signed into law within 30 days by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has indicated he will do so. At that point people 21 or older will no longer be arrested or prosecuted under state law for possessing up to an ounce, growing up to six plants, or transferring up to an ounce "without remuneration" to other people who are at least 21. But implementation of a state-licensed commercial distribution system will take another year or so. The Colorado Department of Revenue, which currently regulates the state's medical marijuana dispensaries, is tasked with writing regulations for pot stores by next July. The new law requires the department to begin processing license applications by October and to start issuing licenses by January 2014. "We say the licenses can be issued as soon as October 2013," says Brian Vicente, co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign. "Given the way government runs, we say they must be issued by January 2014. Our best guess is that it's 2014 when these stores will be opening up."

As with medical marijuana dispensaries, the new stores will be licensed not only by the state but also by local governments, which will have the authority to ban cannabis businesses within their boundaries—by a city council vote at any point or by ballot initiative in even-numbered years. "Probably the only retail marijuana shops will be pre-existing dispensaries that decide to opt in to this new system," Vicente says. "What we've found is that communities across Colorado, the ones that have not banned dispensaries, have strictly regulated these medical marijuana stores….I don't think they're going to expand the zoning. In fact, I think the pre-existing dispensaries stand to benefit from opting in to this system in 2014."

Amendment 64's rules for marijuana stores are considerably less detailed than the ones laid out in Intiative 502, the legalization measure approved by Washington voters yesterday—which, among other things, forbids consumption on the premises. Colorado's law, like Washington's, prohibits "public" consumption. But might the Department of Revenue decide to approve more-discreet versions of Amsterdam's cannabis cafés? "That is a possibility," Vicente says. "We don't think the Department of Revenue initially will head down the road of allowing consumption in private clubs. Really this was drafted to allow retail stores and allow individuals to use marijuana privately in their homes."

Can the federal government try to block implementation of the law? "It is possible the federal government will use their scarce resources to try to overturn the will of Colorado voters and prevent these stores from coming on board," Vicente says. "I think they would argue that federal law in some way trumps state law …that there is a positive conflict there, possibly because the state is issuing licenses to grow and sell a substance that is illegal federally." The question of whether licensing pot sellers creates a direct conflict with federal law came up in the legal wrangling over Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's resistance to implementing that state's voter-approved medical marijuana law. Notably, the U.S. Justice Department did not endorse this claim, getting involved only to argue (along with the ACLU!) that the controversy was not ripe for adjudication. At least one California appeals court has accepted the idea that licensing pot sellers, rather than simply declining to prosecute them (which states have no obligation to do), crosses a line and violates the Controlled Substances Act. But other state appeals courts disagree, and the issue is before the California Supreme Court.

Vicente says the claim that the Controlled Substances Act bars state licensing of marijuana retailers is "a tenuous and weak argument," noting that "there are 18 states, including Massachusetts now, that have medical marijuana, and many of those states have stores that are state licensed and sell marijuana to sick people. So if there were a strong federal case to be brought, I think it already would have happened….According to the federal Controlled Substances Act, there is no medical marijuana. Marijuana is an illegal substance, period. In reality, it's been sold in a state-sanctioned fashion since 1996, when California passed their law, and the federal government has not acted to wholesale prevent that."

It has, of course, harried medical marijuana providers with raids, prosecutions, forfeiture, threats to landlords and banks, and onerous IRS dictates. Will this pattern of harassment intensify once marijuana is officially and openly sold for recreational use? Or will it simply continue at a similar level, especially if, as Vicente suggests, the number of outlets remains about the same and the operations are no more obtrusive than they are now? "I'm cautiously optimistic it will be the opposite," says Vicente, who hopes "the fact that Colorado and Washington have acted to legalize marijuana will send a message to the federal government that they need to back off entirely and let states engage in the responsible regulation of marijuana."

NEXT: German Manufacturing Slides

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I hope the optimists are right. But I was schooled on letting hope trump experience and cynicism yesterday.

  2. Actually, since it’s a constitutional amendment, I don’t believe it has to be signed into law by the Governor. It should take effect as soon as the election results are certified by the Secretary of State.

    1. Brian Vicente says the governor has to sign it. I figure he should know.

      1. He should, but technically the Governor doesn’t sign it into law.

        From Article V, Section 1 (4) of the Colorado Constitution:

        (4) The veto power of the governor shall not extend to measures initiated by or referred to the people. All elections on measures initiated by or referred to the people of the state shall be held at the biennial regular general election, and all such measures shall become the law or a part of the constitution, when approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon, and not otherwise, and shall take effect from and after the date of the official declaration of the vote thereon by proclamation of the governor, but not later than thirty days after the vote has been canvassed. This section shall not be construed to deprive the general assembly of the power to enact any measure.

        So it takes effect either (a) when the Governor says the vote passed or (b) 30 days after the election, whichever comes first.

  3. What the fuck is that picture and why?

    1. Looks like a big blunt wrapped with an actual tobacco leaf rather than the outer wrapping of a Phillie blunt or a White Owl.

    2. As to the why, there is a synergistic effect if you smoke tobacco and cannabis together.

      It’s not GOOD for you, of course.

    3. It’s a black man tryin’ to light a dog turd….silly.
      Cuz he gots no weed!

      1. Is it Labrador?

        1. TAAASTE!

  4. So CO voted to legalize and for Obama.

    I am going to enjoy watching the Obama unleash the DEA on them.

  5. Colorado Department Of Revenue.

    It was banned “to protect people from the harms”, but is legalized as long as the state gets its cut.

    Anarchy compares more favorably to The Organized Crime racket we refer to as gov’t everyday. At least with anarchy, we’d only have to live with one layer of criminal scumbags.

    1. Marijuana is no more harmful than tobacco, and far less harmful than alcohol. Both to individual health and social well-being.

      While alcohol was illegal briefly in the last century, both tobacco and alcohol have been legal for a long time.

      The harm you mention was never harm to the people who consumed it. The harm was that marijuana/hemp grows faster than cotton, requires less processing, requires less care, yields more usable fiber per acre at a lower cost and is a stronger fiber overall. The cotton industry simply couldn’t compete in a fair market, so they got their competition outlawed.

      1. Your right but it wasn’t just the cotton industry that was threatened. Industrial hemp produces 4 times as much paper as tree pulp per farmable acre. William Randolph Hurst of Hurst Publication fame owned newspapers across the country as well as thousands of acres of forest for paper. He stood to lose millions if hemp became popularized for paper production. He used his sizeable influence in politics and his media empire to slander MJ and help get it criminalized. In fact his nephew became the first director of the precursor to the DEA.

  6. A little advice from a Californian to the newly liberated Coloradoans: Don’t get too excited quite yet, the Feds aren’t going to lay down for this. We’ve had legal medicinal MJ in California for many years and still the Feds are busting everyone and anyone for it. It’s all about power and money and they won’t give up either easily. The alcohol and tobacco lobbies still control the Federal puppets and they don’t want the competition for your money, even though Pot is less harmful than the poisons they sell.
    The best approach to decriminalization, legalization and medical use is to first get Marijuana off the Schedule I list and then go from there.
    Last I heard, this issue was being contested in Federal court right now. Of course, the Feds don’t want to hear it and are fighting it all the way.
    Good luck and congratulations……..I think.

    1. Going by both the letter and the spirit of the law, the feds have to lay down for it.

      The 9th, 10th, 14th and 21st amendments all say that if a federal law in this area of the law conflicts with a state law that the state law wins. The 4th amendment would prevent federal warrants from being valid if the federal law conflicts with state law.

      If a federal agent violates any constitutional right while armed and in a group they have committed a crime punishable by life without parole or execution (18USC241, conspiracy against civil rights).

      Know what the legal status of a government agent acting in a way they are forbidden both by constitution and statute to act is? No different than any other criminal. Shoot first, shoot often, and keep shooting until the criminal stops being a threat to your life.

      Even in California, self-defense against someone who is actively engaged in committing a capital crime is a valid act of self-defense.

  7. That makes a whole lot of sense when you think about it.

    http://www.post-anon.tk

  8. The Controlled Substances Act exists in a constitutional gray area. The 21st amendment and the commerce clause interact to give the feds the authority to police interstate and international commerce, even to the point of prohibiting a substance. Since no legal marijuana can exist in a state where it is illegal without coming in from somewhere else or being grown illegally, and giving federal aid to state law enforcement efforts is perfectly legitimate, the CSA is at least theoretically constitutional.

    But as soon as marijuana or other intoxicant is legal in any state, the CSA’s gray area falls apart. If the feds had the constitutional authority they claim over marijuana regardless of state law, then there would have been no need to pass the 18th amendment. Because the feds had the exact same amount of federal supremacy then as they do today. Likewise, the 21st amendment as written would have been nonsensical if the current federal interpretation of the supremacy and commerce clauses were valid. But even if those interpretations were valid at one time, the 18th and 21st amendments were added after the supremacy and commerce clauses, and therefore modify them in the event of a conflict.

    If a state chooses to legalize marijuana or any other intoxicant, federal laws that prohibit those substances within a state become unconstitutional on the spot, according to the U.S. constitution itself.

  9. I am very curious to see the tertiary effects of this legislation. How much money will the state generate in tax? How much will it save in court costs and inmate housing? How much will drug related crime rate change? Will this legislation lessen the presence of Mexican gangs in CO & WA? Let’s hope that all these changes are for the good and CO and WA become model states for others to follow.

  10. Vicente says the claim that the Controlled Substances Act bars state licensing of marijuana retailers is “a tenuous and weak argument,” noting that “there are 18 states, including Massachusetts now, that have medical cheap nfl jerseys marijuana, and many of those states have stores that are state licensed and sell marijuana to sick people. So if there were a strong federal case to be brought, I think it already would have happened….According to the federal Controlled Substances Act, there is no medical marijuana.

    It has, of course, harried medical marijuana providers with raids, prosecutions, forfeiture, threats to landlords and banks, and onerous IRS dictates. Will this pattern of harassment intensify once marijuana is officially and openly sold for recreational use? Or will it simply continue at a similar level, especially if, as Vicente suggests, the number of outlets remains about the same and the operations are no more obtrusive than they are now? “I’m cautiously optimistic it will be the opposite,” says Vicente, who hopes “the fact that Colorado and Washington have acted to legalize marijuana will send a message to the federal government that they need to back off entirely and let cheap MLB jerseys states engage in the responsible regulation of marijuana.”

    1. The Controlled Substances Act exists in a constitutional gray area. The 21st amendment and the commerce clause interact to give the feds the authority to police interstate and international commerce, even to the point of prohibiting a substance. Since no legal marijuana can exist in a state where it is illegal without coming in from somewhere else or being grown illegally, and giving federal aid to state law enforcement efforts is perfectly legitimate, the CSA cheap nfl jerseys is at least theoretically constitutional.

      But as soon as marijuana or other intoxicant is legal in any state, the CSA’s gray area falls apart. If the feds had the constitutional authority they claim over marijuana regardless of state law, then there would have been no need to pass the 18th amendment. Because the feds had the exact same amount of federal supremacy then as they do today. Likewise, the 21st amendment as written would have been nonsensical if the current federal interpretation of the supremacy and commerce clauses were valid. But even if those interpretations were valid at one time, the 18th and 21st amendments were added after the supremacy and cheap nfl jerseys commerce clauses, and therefore modify them in the event of a conflict.

  11. strike out a quote

  12. I want to test strikes
    and I want to test quotes

  13. I want to test strikes

    and I want to test quotes

  14. I think it’s time we start legalizing Marijuana everywhere. Stop living in fear and start thinking about how great the future will be! LEGALIZE IT!

    Why don’t we just start legalizing it everywhere? Why are so many people still stuck in this FEAR stage…? Stop worrying, start hoping. LEGALIZE IT!

    If you live in a state where Marijuana isn’t legal yet and still want the same type of highs, I suggest checking out uIntoxicate.com. It has amazingly detailed legal highs reviews and where to get them without getting ripped off!
    Also! I’m starting up a new forum dedicated to my fellows stoners. Come on over and join the high conversations! We’re quite new, but VERY welcoming.

    CHECK IT: http://uintoxicate.com/
    STONER FORUMS: http://www.stonersofthestates.com/forum/

  15. very super blogos thanks admin sohbet & sohbet odalar?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.