COMMENTARY | Colorado has some work to do this year. Citizens in November passed Amendment 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, and now it is up to state legislators to craft a framework for the safe consumption of the drug.
I am not quite sure where I stand on this issue, as a non-smoking state resident in Walsenburg, in southern Colorado. I am a fan of democracy, though, and if this is what Colorado voters want, then I support it. I hope the state can regulate and tax the drug without interference from the federal government this year.
My request is that, as a state, we take our time and not rush in legislating and clarifying how marijuana will be regulated. As Wyatt Earp once said, "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything."
Voters forced all three levels of government to take action. The federal government must decide whether it will intervene, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Colorado must figure out how to enact what the voters want without stepping on the feds' toes, and the city and county governments around the state must also decide whether to allow for the cultivation or sale of the drug within their jurisdiction.
President Obama has said that recreational users of the drug will "not be a top priority" for federal law enforcement agencies. That leaves it up to Gov. John Hickenlooper and legislators to decide how to tackle the issue. Hickenlooper has said, according to the Denver Post: "Our voters very clearly said they thought this was a step forward. I think our job now is to do the very best job we can to respect the will of those voters and to make that step forward."
Based Obama's and Hickenlooper's statements, it looks like local governments must decide how marijuana is regulated. Weld County and Douglas County, two of the bigger counties in the state, have both already decided to ban the drug. I find this odd in Weld County, as the county's residents voted by a small margin to legalize marijuana.