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New recreational marijuana industry needs regulations in less than 2 months

Story by: Hendrik Sybrandy

DENVER — One new industry to regulate and less than two months to do it. That’s the challenge facing the task force charged with drafting new rules for recreational marijuana in Colorado.

The November passage of Amendment 64 has now made those regulations necessary.

On Thursday, two of the task force’s five subgroups met to sort through some of the complex issues involved.

Deb Palm-Egle, a medical marijuana patient, was among those who attended.

“I want to know why I should ever get a license again and get on a public register,” Palm-Egle said.

“I want to know what the benefits are going be for a medical marijuana patient compared to somebody off the street, and I want to know what they’re going to do.”

A subgroup dealing with the regulatory framework for the recreational marijuana industry was briefed on current state liquor and medical marijuana regulations.

Both could serve as blueprints for the new rules. While some argue the medical marijuana industry lacks adequate state oversight, its regulations have won praise from others.

One marijuana user hopes the new regulations are easier for retailers to navigate than the requirements for marijuana dispensary owners several years ago.

“They had to basically bring in a station wagon full of documents in order to get their licenses,” said Wayward Bill Chengelis of the U.S. Marijuana Party. “Hopefully they’ll come up with something better and not so paper worthy.”

Among the questions the task force will have to wrestle with: how to track marijuana so that it doesn’t get diverted to the black market, whether to limit THC content in marijuana and whether marijuana sales should be limited to residents of Colorado.

Palm-Egle is cautiously optimistic that the new regulations will be effective eventually.

“Maybe in five or six years everything’s going to look normal,” she said.