DENVER — Amendment 64 has gained voter approval with a wide margin of 55 to 45-percent, but federal law still recognizes marijuana use as illegal. The conflicting state and federal laws bring questions as to how easily the amendment can be implemented in Colorado.
Hours after the Amendment passed Tuesday night, the federal Department of Justice had already issued a response.
“The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” wrote Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”
In a statement that was also issued last night, Governor John Hickenlooper explained how the transition will not be an easy one saying, “don’t break out the Cheetos and gold fish too quickly.”
Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers also issued a response to the new legislation on Wednesday morning.
“Despite my strongly held belief that the ‘legalization’ of marijuana on a state level is very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General’s Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution,” Suthers wrote.
With Suthers’ statement of good faith in hand, Melody sat down with Mason Tvert, a proponent for Amendment 64, to discuss what the next steps for the state will look like as Colorado moves forward with the legalization of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21.
The state legislature has until 2014 to develop a system to sell marijuana in store fronts, similar to the way alcohol is sold, and Tvert is confident local marijuana vendors and users will not be as hassled by the federal government as many fear.
“The federal government has respected our current system of regulated medical marijuana production and sales,” Tvert said. “So we don’t really see why this would change anything. In fact, what we’re doing is controlling even more of the marijuana market that’s out there,”
Tvert’s confidence in this law being implemented smoothly comes from the idea that it’s been done before.
“Colorado voters repealed alcohol prohibition prior to the federal government,” he said. “They did it by ballot initiative 80 years ago and we’re doing the same thing with marijuana.”
As of yesterday, 18 states currently have regulated medical marijuana laws. Washington joined Colorado in legalizing its recreational use.
For further insight from Tvert, watch the video above.