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Kicking off coverage of the passage of Amendment 64 yesterday, the constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes in this state, naturally we begin with Westword:
Proponent Mason Tvert, speaking amid a boisterous celebration at the measure’s victory party, puts the historic achievement in perspective.
“This shows that Coloradans are ready to move beyond marijuana prohibition,” he says. “They demonstrated it tonight by approving Amendment 64.
“Eighty years ago, Colorado voters approved a repeal of alcohol prohibition, demonstrating a desire to take a more sensible approach to how we treat alcohol,” he continues. “It doesn’t come as a surprise that they’re now taking sensible steps when it comes to the way we treat marijuana.”
…Implementing Amendment 64 will be a challenge, given that Colorado’s law, as altered by the act, will directly contradict with federal policy, which continues to treat marijuana as illegal. However, he says, “we look forward to discussions with state and federal officials. We’re looking forward to working with them — and looking forward to seeing that marijuana is regulated and treated in a sensible fashion.”
In a statement that was also issued last night, Governor John Hickenlooper explained how the transition will not be an easy one saying, “don’t break out the Cheetos and gold fish too quickly.”
Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers also issued a response to the new legislation on Wednesday morning.
“Despite my strongly held belief that the ‘legalization’ of marijuana on a state level is very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General’s Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution,” Suthers wrote.
KRDO-TV reports, there are still many unresolved questions:
Attorney General John Suthers released the following statement regarding taxation of the drug:
“The proponents of Amendment 64 told voters that it imposed a surtax of up to 15 % on marijuana sale that would result in up to $40 million each year going to K-12 schools in the state. In fact Amendment 64 did not comply with required language under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and no such tax will be imposed. Instead it will be up to the Colorado Legislature whether to refer such a tax to the voters and up to the voters of Colorado whether to actually impose the tax. Therefore, such revenue is speculative and will not be forthcoming when Amendment 64 begins to be implemented.”
When state and federal laws conflict, federal law takes precedence. Federal authorities could sue in an attempt to block the measures in Colorado and Washington from taking effect.
It’s anybody’s guess what the federal government will do about Amendment 64, though many we’ve talked to do expect a suit by the feds attempting to block all or part of the amendment from taking effect. Depending on what happens with that, as FOX 31 reports, the Colorado General Assembly will be responsible for passing implementing legislation regulating the recreational sale of marijuana–and as Attorney General John Suthers asserts above, it may be necessary to refer a tax measure to voters to fulfill the fiscal part of Amendment 64’s promise.
It’s likely that the provisions for the sale and taxation of marijuana will prove more difficult to work out than the heart of the amendment, legalizing personal possession of up to one ounce or six plants. The state already has some experience with commercial sale of marijuana in the form of dispensaries for medical marijuana patients, experience that could help develop the model.
Whatever happens, we’re definitely in uncharted territory. A poll follows.