DENVER— Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed legislation Tuesday that continue the reform of marijuana laws in Colorado, set in motion last November by the voters of the state.
Once voters made it clear that marijuana prohibition must end, Hickenlooper established a task force of various stakeholder communities to provide guidance for the general assembly to enact legislation to implement Amendment 64. The task force recommendations became the basis of the work of a select legislative committee that devised the bills signed today by the Governor.
“Despite not supporting Amendment 64, our Governor has shown true leadership by ensuring his office and the general assembly implemented the will of the voters,” said Art Way, senior drug policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “These implementing pieces of legislation signed by the governor are the beginning of statewide efforts to bring marijuana above ground in a manner beneficial to public health and safety.”
The legislation signed today will soon be followed by rules promulgated by the Department of Revenue with the details of how the regulatory program will work. Advocates are also hoping many local jurisdictions follow suite, especially in counties that supported Amendment 64, by establishing city ordinances to provide guidance and oversight for the regulatory framework in their jurisdictions.
The bills signed today create the Marijuana Enforcement Division, place a marijuana tax on next year’s ballot, establish the regulation of a statewide Hemp industry and put in place wide ranging regulations for consumers and industry stakeholders. Colorado, along with Washington State, was one of the first two jurisdictions in the world to end blanket marijuana prohibition in the country and to a large extent the world. Countries like the Netherlands have long allowed legal purchase and consumption of marijuana under a quasi regulatory structure, but have not fully integrated a complete chain of taxing and regulation the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and use of marijuana within their jurisdiction as Colorado and Washington will soon do.
“The Governor has signed off for Colorado to take the lead on taxing and regulating marijuana for adult use,” says Way. “I’m confident our state has, and will continue to do it responsibly. After all, we have experience and expertise in comprehensively regulating medical marijuana on a large scale. We have a blueprint.”
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