There’s nothing laid-back about the state panel charged with creating a regulatory framework for marijuana.
The Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force logged another marathon session Monday, putting in extra hours to meet Thursday’s deadline for draft rules on recreational marijuana use. The commissioners are now deep in uncharted waters, and they deserve enormous credit for their dedication to crafting comprehensive rules under tight time constraints.
It’s too bad that all their work could be for nothing. Nearly four months after the passage of Amendment 64, Attorney General Eric Holder is still mum on whether the Justice Department will allow any of this.
Recall that Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers raised the issue with Holder in November, three days after Colorado voters approved the ballot measure legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
“Everyone shared a sense of urgency,” said Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown in a statement issued after the Nov. 9 conference call.
Everyone, that is, except Holder, much to the chagrin of Colorado pot activists. The alternative Denver weekly Westword ran a Feb. 20 article about the efforts of one local rabble-rouser, Corey Donahue, to get to the bottom of what’s happening with the Justice Department, without success.
In the meantime, the task force is proceeding as if Amendment 64 were the undisputed law of the land. Commissioners checked off another dozen boxes Monday, agreeing to recommend purchasing caps below one ounce, which is the amount allowed for personal adult use under Amendment 64.
The panel endorsed recommendations on packaging and labeling, while agreeing to ban advertising for recreational pot shops that might be seen by children. The commissioners also decided to prohibit stores from making medical claims about their products.
The commission meets again Thursday to wrap up loose ends at what’s being billed as its final meeting. After that, the panel’s recommendations will be sent to the state legislature, which has until the end of the session in May to approve bills governing recreational marijuana.
Amendment 64 gives the state Department of Revenue until July 1 to adopt regulations for commercial marijuana businesses, which includes retail sales, cultivation and manufacturing. Retailers are expected to start up in 2014. After that, expect pot-related businesses to start proliferating like weeds, just as medical-marijuana dispensaries did before them.
Let’s hope Holder realizes that his silence is being interpreted as a sign of tacit approval. Maybe that’s his intent. If not, he’s going to find that the longer he waits, the more difficult Colorado’s recreational-marijuana culture will be to uproot.