When Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, they created a tight timeline for the state to enact regulations around the legal cultivation and sale of pot.
The language of the amendment set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2014 for sales licenses to be granted, but left a lot of room for state officials to weigh in on the manner in which the drug is restricted.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and legislative leaders appointed 24 people to recommend a comprehensive set of laws and regulations to govern marijuana in Colorado. The panel has a February 28 deadline to submit its proposals, allowing the necessary time to pass legislation in the upcoming legislative session.
The task force's members represent a variety of interests in the outcome, including state regulators, lawmakers, legal experts, law enforcement, business, and marijuana users.
The governor's order precludes members from debating the merits of legalizing recreational use of the drug, because voters have already spoken on that issue.
The panel was given a wide scope of legal issues to consider: amending existing statutes that conflict with Amendment 64, new laws to regulate use and sale of pot, an excise(or wholesale) tax on marijuana, licensing for retailers and growers, labeling requirements, health and safety standards, penalties for breaking regulations, education on health effects of pot, minimizing conflict with federal law, and the economic impact of Amendment 64.
"I'm not saying that we should regulate the quantity of THC in a product, but it's something that we should discuss and be willing to discuss. Particularly discussing labeling and disclosure so that people know what they're buying," task force co-chair Jack Finlaw said.
The 24-member task force spent most of this meeting tossing out issues for smaller groups to tackle.
They'll break out into five committees that will hold meetings to get into details.
Another controversial topic resurfaced: DUI laws for pot.
Some pro-pot advocates say now that the drug is legal for recreational use they worry a DUI limit will be set by lawmakers.
Last year, state legislators killed a bill that would have set a limit of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
Rather than automatic DUI- some marijuana advocates hope for a law that allows a jury to use that number to decide you were too high to drive.
President Obama did indicate that targeting recreational use of pot was not a top priority for his administration's law enforcement efforts, telling ABC News "we've got bigger fish to fry."
Still, marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law.
Here are the 24 members of the Colorado task force:
- Rep. Dan Pabon, appointed by the incoming Speaker of the House;
- Sen. Cheri Jahn, appointed by the incoming President of the Senate;
- Rep.-elect Dan Nordberg, appointed by the incoming House Minority Leader;
- Sen.-elect Vicki Marble, appointed by the incoming Senate Minority Leader;
- David Blake, representing the Colorado Attorney General;
- Kevin Bommer, representing the Colorado Municipal League;
- Eric Bergman, representing Colorado Counties Inc.;
- Chris Urbina, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment;
- James Davis, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety;
- John Salazar, the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture;
- Ron Kammerzell, the Senior Director responsible for the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division;
- Christian Sederberg, representing the campaign to pass Amendment 64;
- Meg Sanders, representing the medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation industry;
- Craig Small, representing marijuana consumers;
- Sam Kamin, a person with expertise in legal issues related to the legalization of marijuana;
- Dr. Christian Thurstone, a person with expertise in the treatment of marijuana addiction;
- Charles Garcia, representing the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice;
- Larry Abrahamson, representing the Colorado District Attorney's Council;
- Brian Connors, representing the Colorado State Public Defender;
- Daniel Zook, an at-large member from outside of the Denver area;
- Tamra Ward, representing the interests of employers; and
- Mike Cerbo, representing the interests of employees.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)