“Currently federal laws define marijuana as an illegal substance”. (link) This means that the possession and use of non-medical marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, giving them the ability to prosecute for the use, sell, and cultivation of marijuana. At this time however, it is still unknown how the federal government will exercise that right.
In an attempt to try and figure out how to handle Colorado’s new law on legalizing marijuana, a Task Force (Amendment 64 Task Force) has been created. The Task Force’s purpose is to focus on key issues such as the conflict between Federal and State regulations. These recommendations will be forwarded to the General Assembly, which will then be creating law or laws that will regulate the recreational use of marijuana.
The latest Task Force meeting focused on regulating marijuana while interacting with the federal government. As noted by DU Law Professor Sam Kamin (task force member),“there is a tension between full implementation of Amendment 64 and creating a policy that the feds will deem acceptable.”
The Task Force will eventually make 40 to 60 recommendations to the legislature and Governor Hickenlooper. The regulations will focus on making sure that marijuana that is grown and sold in Colorado stays in Colorado and that they have the resources to enforce these laws. Recently, the task force has voted in favor of a recommendation that would allow employers to fire someone for off-the-job marijuana use without facing consequences. The Task Force is in disagreement however, on such issues as where the ownership chain between growers and sellers begins and ends, so the issue has been sent back for readjusting before coming to agreement.
Since the implementation of Amendment 64, not everyone is in agreement on the benefit of such an amendment. Denver Police say that they have seen a rise in the number of marijuana related crimes since 2009 and do not see it slowing down anytime soon. They believe that because of its easily accessibility and better quality, Colorado is now the source for drug trafficking.
Proponents of the Amendment however, believe that once a regulatory structure is implemented, that marijuana trafficking will be greatly reduced. At this time, Amendment 64 is still at a very unpredictable state. Until Federal and State law comes to an agreement and more regulations are put into place, the effect of Amendment 64 will still be unknown.