Pot recommendations a handful

Vic Vela
Posted

It’s 166 pages long and it contains 58 regulation recommendations — some will be more complex and controversial to deal with than others.

So it’s no wonder that state lawmakers are going to have to work overtime to get through a report from the Amendment 64 Task Force in time to meet a deadline for putting in place rules dealing with November’s voter-approved marijuana legalization in Colorado.

A newly created legislative committee began its work on implementing the task force regulations on March 15.

The Joint Select Committee, which is made up of Democrats and Republicans from both houses of the General Assembly, heard testimony on how best to go about crafting pot rules that must be ready for enforcement on July 1.

If lawmakers can’t create legislation this session that deals with a myriad of issues — such as putting in place protections for children, figuring out how to deal with tourists, and how the new marijuana industry is taxed — then the state’s Department of Revenue will put rules in place without input from lawmakers.

“We’d prefer not to implement rules without the guidance of the General Assembly,” said Department of Revenue head Barbara Brohl, who also is the co-chair of the task force that was put in place by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Because of that, the committee’s House chairman, Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, said members should expect to meet several times through the remainder of the session in order to complete their work.

“We are going to have, I’m sure, a lot of discussion and debate about what should and shouldn’t be included in this legislation ....” Pabon said.

As if their job isn’t difficult enough, committee members also must take into consideration the federal government’s role in all of this.

The state still doesn’t know whether the U.S. Department of Justice will intervene in Colorado’s new marijuana industry, by way of federal drug enforcement or even a lawsuit.

“This is a concern for everyone in government and everyone in the state,” Brohl said.