Denver City Council still considering Amendment 64 opt-out

Regulations also being discussed in other cities

DENVER - The City of Denver is still considering opting out of Amendment 64, which would mean marijuana could not be sold for recreational use in the city, despite overwhelming approval for the amendment last November.

7NEWS discovered there are at least 19 Colorado communities planning to strictly regulate marijuana retail sales and personal cultivation.

If Denver were to take the same path, it would be the largest and most liberal city in the state to do so.

Diane Carlson-Robinson argues Denver doesn't need retail pot shops, when it already has 287 medical dispensaries.

"There's twice as many medical dispensaries than pharmacies in the city of Denver," said Carlson-Robinson, who represents Smart Colorado, a group of proponents for strict marijuana regulations statewide.

Christian Sederberg argues the opposite, that retail pot shops -- like liquor stores -- will curb illegal use.

"Drug dealers don't currently card people," said Sederberg. "The current prohibition of the drug is what's failed. That was the central argument to Amendment 64."

Sederberg is an attorney who currently represents medical marijuana dispensaries.

In the city of Denver, 67 percent of voters, nearly 2 in 3, approved the legalization of marijuana. For the City Council, however, the work is not yet finished.

"Because the state isn't defining regulations, I'm going to strongly recommend to you all that we do in a municipal ordinance," said an attorney for the City of Denver.

"I think the real question will be, 'How can we implement this in a wise way?'" said Dr. Peter Hanson, assistant professor of political science at the University of Denver.

Hanson said Amendment 64 has left communities in tough position.

"I suspect voters themselves haven't thought in detail about what legalization will actually look like," he said.

Carlson-Robinson and her group say it's the most radical marijuana law in the world, which allows people to grow their own and doesn't regulate THC levels.

"In Amsterdam you cannot grow, manufacture and transport marijuana," said Carlson-Robinson. "Marijuana that is above 15 percent THC levels is treated as a hard drug in Amsterdam."

Sederberg said the bottom line is, the majority voted for recreational pot.

"This is the path that Colorado has decided to go down," he said. "And now is the time for us to lead on it. And the next step is to put a regulated market forward that's responsible, and highly regulated."

City council also expressed concerns about the message it's sending to young people.  

Dr. Christian Thurstone, professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado at Denver testified the city of Denver has the second highest rate of marijuana prevalence among youth 12 and older in the U.S., second only to Milwaukee.

As municipalities like Denver consider action on regulations, the state Amendment 64 task force is due to make its recommendations to the governor Wednesday.


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