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Colorado marijuana task force debates federal response

7:02 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - The latest meeting between Governor Hickenlooper's special task force on marijuana regulation had a big emphasis on interaction with the federal government.

Members of the 24-member Amendment 64 Task Force were reassured they would not violate federal law by making recommendations on marijuana, which is still illegal under federal law.

DU Law Professor Sam Kamin, also a member of the task force, updated his fellow members on how the group's work falls into federal statute.

"There is necessarily a tension between full implementation of Amendment 64 and creating a policy that the feds will deem acceptable," Kamin said.

U.S. Attorney John Walsh has reassured members of the task force they would not face prosecution for working on recommendations, according to Jack Finlaw, chief legal counsel to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

Finlaw said U.S. attorneys and the Attorney General will watch the task force's recommendations closely.

"I think that our goal is to have a very robust regulatory scheme that makes sure that marijuana that we grow and sell here stays in Colorado, that we protect our kids from marijuana, and that we have the resources to enforce the law," Finlaw said.

At least one task force member noted an oath some on the task force take to uphold both the federal and state constitutions.

"I think we're hoping the federal government will look the other way, even though we know we are violating federal law," Former Larimier County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson said.

In all, the task force will make anywhere between 40 to 60 recommendations to the legislature and Governor Hickenlooper

One of the strongest recommendations came when the group voted employers should not face consequences if they fire someone for off-the-job marijuana use.

The task force, however, could not reach consensus on a proposal to break up the ownership chain between growers and sellers of marijuana in Colorado, so they sent the issue back to a working group.

The task force has four more meetings, with a goal to make final recommendations by Feb. 28.

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