Colorado election results: Attorney General promises to help implement Amendment 64 marijuana law

Feds warn it's still illegal

DENVER - Colorado's Republican Attorney General is promising to help implement the pro-marijuana law passed by voters.

"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," Attorney General John Suthers said in a statement.

Amendment 64 will allow adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. It also would allow people to grow as many as six marijuana plants in private, secure areas.

Amendment 64 organizers said the new law will make authorities regulate marijuana like alcohol. It removes criminal penalties for possession and establishes a system of regulated and taxed marijuana products, and allows for the legal cultivation of industrial hemp.

However, Suthers said Coloradans should know that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling recognized the federal government's ability to criminally sanction possession, use and distribution of marijuana, even if grown, distributed and used in a single state.

"Therefore, absent action by Congress, Coloradans should not expect to see successful legal challenges to the ability of the federal government to enforce its marijuana laws in Colorado," Suthers said.

Suthers said he will ask the United States Department of Justice to make known its intentions regarding prosecution of activities sanctioned by Amendment 64, particularly large wholesale grow operations.

Suthers also said part of Amendment 64 cannot be imposed.

"The proponents of Amendment 64 told voters the law would impose a surtax of up to 15 percent on marijuana sale that would result in up to $40 million each year going to K-12 schools in the state," Suthers wrote. "In fact, Amendment 64 did not comply with required language under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and no such tax will be imposed."

Instead Suthers said Colorado voters may have to vote again on that issue.

"It will be up to the Colorado Legislature whether to refer such a tax to the voters and up to the voters of Colorado whether to actually impose the tax. Therefore, such revenue is speculative and will not be forthcoming when Amendment 64 begins to be implemented," Suthers said.

 

Governor speaks out

 

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was against Amendment 64.

"The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will," Gov. John Hickenlooper said. "This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through."

"That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly," Hickenlooper said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Colorado issued a statement reminding the public of the federal ban on marijuana.

"The Department of Justice's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," the statement said. "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."

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