It has been nine months since Colorado and Washington State approved citizen initiatives legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. In Colorado the vote took the form of a state constitutional amendment to give the decision increased clout, but the decisions by voters in favor of allowing recreational use of MJ in both states fly in the face of existing US federal law. Federal prosecutors effectively curtailed implementation efforts of the new laws by delaying as long as possible a decision whether to leave enforcement of the new laws to Colorado and Washington State, or to sue the states to repeal the will of a majority of citizens in those states. The decision by our Justice Department to leave marijuana enforcement to the states, as long as the drug is kept away from kids, the black market and federal property, puts in motion a precedent that will make repeal of these laws increasingly difficult for a succeeding president and his or her Justice department. Those of us who voted for Amendment 64 in Colorado are thrilled that our US attorney general has given us the guidance to proceed with implementation of the law, but the US Congress needs to act so that the policy cannot be reversed on the whim of present or future attorneys general. It is a slow march by states toward legalization of the drug, with Alaska scheduled to vote on the question next year, and several other states planning similar votes in 2016. It has been educational to witness the hypocrisy of Tea Party conservatives, whose cry is for government to get off our backs who now call for government regulation when citizen initiatives become law.
On a local level the countdown has begun for Denver to truly become the Mile High City, possibly by January first of 2014. According to a recent survey by Denver’s excise and licensing department, growers who supply Denver’s dispensaries are looking to triple their output based on their existing warehouse space, and rumors are flying about growers leasing and building warehouses in anticipation of next year’s rush. The metro-area cities of Aurora, Littleton, Lakewood, Arvada, Erie, Wheatridge, Erie, Lyons, Longmont and Lafayette have placed moratoriums on recreational MJ businesses, Boulder has proposed to delay business applications, and Louisville is discussing the matter. Denver has now been called “America’s undisputed stoner capital” by Rolling Stone magazine, and the 369 acre town of Glendale in the middle of southeast Denver has placed no restriction on pot clubs, businesses that Denver has disallowed. To quote Jeremy Meyer of the Denver Post, “will the new MJ recreational industry damage the state’s reputation, grow the drug culture, spread marijuana into neighboring states, intoxicate young people and spur more crime? Or will it be an unrecognizable change, produce needed tax revenue, drive a stake in marijuana’s black market and extinguish unnecessary prosecutions?” We shall see, non?