Lawmakers work late tweaking pot regulation bill

DENVER - Some lawmakers are working late at the State Capitol Tuesday night, making changes to a controversial bill that would establish a system of regulation for recreational marijuana. The bill is scheduled for its first hearing Wednesday.

Working alongside the elected representatives are lobbyists for the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, who have voiced concerns about the bill in its current form.

"We are concerned this bill does affect public safety in Colorado in a negative way," said Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, speaking on behalf of the association. "We need an effective regulatory scheme in place that is better than what we have in [House Bill 13-1317]."

The chiefs of police had considered issuing a public letter about their concerns, but instead were invited to work with lawmakers on changes.

The association's areas concerns include the integration of marijuana businesses, vague language in the bill and out-of-state investors.

Representative Dan Pabon, who sponsors the legislation in the House, admitted the posted version of House Bill 13-1317 was not a finished product.

"Does this bill allow out-of-state investments?" asked 7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen.

"We absolutely will not have out-of-state investors in this industry and the bill will be amended to address that," Pabon responded. "It's vague in how it was written, but we will make it crystal clear to anyone who wants to invest in this business that they are not welcome."

As it is posted online Tuesday evening, House Bill 13-1317 would allow growers and sellers to operate separately. That's directly opposite to existing regulations for the medical marijuana business, where growers and sellers are part of the same company and grow most of what they sell.

Pabon proposed the change and says he believes lawmakers will find common ground.

"We want to have seed to sale tracking, and if we can keep track of that, we think the public safety will be protected," he said.

Jackson, however, said the chiefs of police are also concerned about the integration of the cogs in the marijuana machine.

"Big ticket items being talked around like they’re not that big of a deal," he said. "And 2 to 3 years from now, people are going to say, 'Wow, this is a big deal.'"

 

-- Other regulations in this version of the bill --

As it is currently written, House Bill 13-1317 transforms the existing medical marijuana enforcement division to the marijuana enforcement division. That reimagined division would administer the licensing system for marijuana businesses.

The application fee for current medical marijuana licensees would be $500. After a three month period of exclusivity for current medical marijuana licensees, new applications would be accepted with a $5,000 fee.

Licensees are required to have lived in Colorado for at least two years.

Under the bill, half of each license fee would be transferred to the local government of the place where the business is being established.

Retail stores, retail products manufacturers, retail cultivation facilities and testing facilities would all be required to have a license.

Licenses would also be subject to the approval of a local government.

The legislation also limits how much marijuana can be sold to nonresidents in a single transaction to one-quarter of an ounce. It also prohibits marijuana retail stores from dealing in products containing nicotine or alcohol.

-- Read HB 13-1317: http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2013a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/807A035CD583C95E87257B1F005CDB59?Open&file=1317_01.pdf