Colorado's police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys voice concern over state's new marijuana plan

DENVER - The associations representing Colorado's police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys expressed deep concerns about the implementation of the state's new law legalizing recreational marijuana.

In a letter addressed to the governor and legislative leaders, the group said if Amendment 64 is not implemented properly, with corresponding legislation that backs up the intent of the people, Colorado "will become the nation's supplier of choice for marijuana  --  including the organized crime and corresponding violence that will go hand in hand with Colorado's role as a marijuana supplier."

"In spite of the many Colorado businesses endeavoring to comply with Colorado law, marijuana continues to be illegal in other states, and continues to bring to Colorado organized crime and unsavory criminal elements," the letter said.

The group -- comprised of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, the Colorado District Attorneys Council, the County Sheriffs of Colorado,  and the Colorado Drug Investigators Association --  asked Gov. John Hickenlooper for the support of several Senate bills that would address "serious safety concerns."

"It appears to us that there are members of the General Assembly who believe that the legalization of marijuana means few, if any, restrictions on its use, even when that use endangers public safety," the letter said.

The group wants the Legislature to establish the 5-nanogram per liter standard for driving under the influence, provide money to train officers to identify drivers who are impaired by marijuana, and define when a child has been endangered by marijuana -- whether in legal or illegal amounts.

The police chiefs also asked that the Colorado Department of Public Safety study the actual effects on local law enforcement when implementing Amendment 64.

"Since this amendment was touted as reducing our criminal justice system expenses, and since we are leading the nation in implementation of this kind of law, it is imperative to understand fully the effects that such a law will have on our local criminal justice system resources. The money must be found for this critical study if public safety is to be prioritized. Lastly, there was originally a mandate in the bill for CDPHE to study the health effects of marijuana. That too has been made optional and we urge its adoption as a mandate," the letter said.

"Many citizens supported Amendment 64 without understanding that the resources to implement the oversight of marijuana industry were not provided for in the Amendment, and did not realize that another vote would be required to provide for the education resources promised in the amendment. Without adequate resources Amendment 64 is a legal free for all, and Colorado’s law enforcement community stands ready to help secure the resources necessary to provide an adequate regulatory framework.  We urge you and the members of the General Assembly to work with us at using these last few days of the legislative session to support the work of the citizen’s taskforce and to support thoughtful legislation that balances public safety and the rights granted under Amendment 64. "

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