"You can't argue with the will of the voters," Governor John Hickenlooper said during a post-election meeting with members of the news media Wednesday. "We are in a democracy, and the sentiment was pretty clear."
"It's decriminalized. We will not be prosecuting people on a state law basis," The governor added.
Governor Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers were critical of Amendment 64 during the campaign.
"Despite my personal opposition to 64 and my belief that this is really bad public policy, my office will assist in every way possible the executive branch agencies that are charged with implementing Amendment 64," Suthers said on Wednesday.
When asked if his office would defend the state should the federal government try to block implementation, Suthers told 9News that he would.
"I have to tell you, it's not unusual for me to defend laws that I think are stupid. Ok? That's something we do a lot around here, and I think we do a pretty good job of that," he said.
Federal intentions remain unclear. Both Washington state and Colorado approved marijuana legalization efforts on Election Day, becoming the first two states in the country to approve marijuana legalization.
Governor Hickenlooper said he expects to have a phone conversation with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder by the end of the week in an effort to better understand what the federal government might do in light of ballot questions.
"My sense on this is that it is unlikely that the federal government is going to allow states one by one to unilaterally decriminalize marijuana," Hickenlooper said.
Suthers said his office is eager to receive some guidance from the federal government so he can know how to proceed on a local level, but said he does not expect immediate federal intervention.
Supporters of Amendment 64 said they believe Suthers might indeed be right on that last point.
"We are cautiously optimistic the federal government will respect the will of Colorado voters and allow our state to dictate marijuana policy that is just and fiscally responsible for our state," marijuana activist Brian Vicente said.
Vicente pointed out that more Coloradans voted for legalization than did for President Obama's reelection.
The law will not go into effect until election results are certified by the state next month. Even then, it will take upwards of another year to set up a regulatory mechanism that would allow for the sale and distribution of marijuana from storefront operations.
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