Marijuana legalized: Voters have spoken, now what?

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Good Day Colorado‘s coverage of marijuana legalization made an appearance on NBC’s Tonight show Wednesday. Watch the video above to see it.

DENVER — With voters passing Amendment 64, state lawmakers have 13 months to come up with a plan to regulate the industry.

Right now, to buy weed legally you have to show medical marijuana card. In a few months, adults 21 and older will only have to flash their driver’s license.

The voters have spoken, but there are still a lot of unknowns.

“It’s hard to imagine the chaos that would result if state-by state you had one state legalizing it and one state not legalizing it,” Governor John Hickenlooper said.

The governor and state attorney general hope talk to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as early as Thursday. Because no matter what voters want, pot is still illegal under federal law.

“Now that these large grow operations aren’t even pretending to be for medical purposes, I’m sure they (the federal government) are not going to be nearly as tolerant,” Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said. “And we need to know that.”

Those words of caution aren’t dampening the enthusiasm of those who helped get Amendment 64 in front of voters in the first place.

“The legislature is going to have to put this excise tax in front of the voters next year — next November,” said Brian Vincente, a leader for the Yes on 64 initiative. “These are the same voters that passed this overwhelmingly.”

Supports like Vincente promise $40 million a year in marijuana taxes will go to schools. And it’s at schools where the topic is a hot subject.

For one student, Eryn Fitzgerald, this has all created a bit of an inner dilemma

“In school they talk about how bad all these drugs are,” Fitzgerald said. “So why is pot going to be different?”

Eryn’s mother, Angela Fitzgerald, voted yes on Amendment 64, but told her daughter that she was mostly concerned about the tax benefit it could offer.

“She knows we do not want her to use it,” Angela said.

Before the first stores open in 2014, medical marijuana operators like Denver Relief owner Kayvan Khalabari will have to decide whether or not to buy in.

“We have a lot of patients that rely on us for what we do, and we don’t want to put them in a position where we have to go away,” Khalabari said. “We know the social use is going to bring some attention. How much pressure the feds are going to put on? We just don’t know yet.”

The biggest unknown may be whether or not the federal government steps in to squash this amendment entirely. If they don’t, marijuana could become legal by law as early as January.

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