Governor signs Colorado’s historic pot bills into law

Greg Campbell | Contributor

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper made history Tuesday by signing several new laws related to the regulated sale and distribution of recreational marijuana — but he also voiced his longstanding concerns with the laws, saying he’s “not sure it’s good for Colorado’s brand.

The bills are a result of voters’ passage of Amendment 64 in November — a measure that legalized adult use, possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana. The amendment also required the legislature to regulate sales and distribution.

The Colorado Department of Revenue has until July 1 to write the specific rules; and licenses for state-sanctioned pot shops can be issued as early as Jan. 1.

“We applaud Gov. Hickenlooper for the initiative he has taken to ensure the world’s first legal marijuana market for adults will entail a robust and comprehensive regulatory system” Marijuana Policy Project Communications Director Mason Tvert said in a statement.

“Colorado is demonstrating to the rest of the nation that it is possible to adopt a marijuana policy that reflects the public’s increasing support for making marijuana legal for adults,” Tvert said.

The new laws hardly end the debate over marijuana in Colorado. Among them is one that sets a “driving while stoned” standard that many believe is too low and that will ensnare frequent users like medical marijuana patients who might test over the limit but who aren’t impaired.

Another asks voters to authorize marijuana taxes totaling 25 percent. That tax revenue is supposed to pay for the regulatory framework and for providing funds to schools, a provision of Amendment 64.

In Colorado, voters must approve all new taxes. Should the tax fail at the ballot box, the industry’s expenses will be paid out of the state general fund, meaning that even though Hickenlooper worries that Colorado will become known as the pot capital of the world, he will campaign strongly for the passage of the taxes.

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