Amendment 64: Douglas County to ban retail marijuana sales a year before they could happen
Although voters approved Amendment 64 earlier this month, the retail sales aspect of the measure can't go into effect prior to late 2013 or early 2014 -- and that's only if (and it's a big "if") the federal government doesn't take action to intervene. Yet Douglas County Commissioner Jack Hilbert has already introduced an ordinance to ban such sales there; see it and more documents below. A surprise? Absolutely not.
The DougCo commissioners have long been anti-marijuana when it comes to retail outlets. Back in June 2010, we spoke to Hilbert about the decision to put a medical marijuana dispensary ban on that November's ballot. "The voters are the ones who approved this in the first place -- and I constantly hear from people who say, 'This is not what I voted for,'" he told us at the time, adding, "I think people who voted for it went with their heart and their compassion, but now they're looking at this and saying, 'I didn't vote for this.'"
Douglas County Commisioners Steven Boand, Jill Repella and Jack Hilbert.
Then, this past September, the commissioners joined Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver in opposing Amendment 64, dishing out some of the strongest language of any elected officials in the state -- and that's saying something given the vitriol directed at the proposal from many quarters.
As we wrote at the time, the commissioners' resolution, signed by Hilbert, employs the typical "whereas" format -- and most of the clauses that follow this word suggest disaster should the majority of Coloradans allow adults to possess and use small amounts of cannabis. The commissioners argue that the amendment "fails to protect the health, safety and welfare of Colorado citizens" because it lacks standards against "harmful contaminants and disease," "conflicts with federal law and jeopardizes federally funded projects because drug-free workplace requirements may not be met," and "suggests that Colorado is on tract [sic] to become a primary source of supply for high-grade marijuana throughout the country."
The new document, dated November 20, is equally strong. It's described as "an ordinance prohibiting the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities or retail marijuana stores within the unincorporated boundaries of Douglas County, State of Colorado" -- and its first "whereas" points out that voters in DougCo actually turned thumbs-down on Amendment 64, with 55 percent of participants marking "no" on their ballot.
The ordinance also notes, accurately, that Amendment 64 includes a provision for localities such as Douglas County to opt out of such sales. And opting out is the commissioners' preference -- so much so that they propose fining anyone who ignores the ordinance once it's officially approved $1,000 per violation, with each day deemed a separate violation.
Look below to see a 7News report about the proposal, followed by the ordinance, Sheriff Weaver's argument against Amendment 64, and the commissioners' previous resolution.
Douglas County Sheriff's Office release:
Douglas County Sheriff votes NO to make pot legal across CO
It's bad for our kids, our community and is against federal law, Sheriff says
This November, residents will vote on ballot measure Amendment 64, which would make it legal for any adult to have and use marijuana. It could also make Colorado the only state in the nation where it's legal to ingest, grow, sell or give away an ounce of marijuana for recreational use.
"If voters pass this amendment, I believe there will be many harmful consequences," Douglas County Sheriff David A. Weaver said. "Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere. I think our entire state will pay the price. Please join me in voting against Amendment 64 in November."
Sheriff Weaver formed his opinion after a careful study of the issues and facts. The Douglas County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution on September 26, 2012 opposing Amendment 64. The Colorado Educators Association is also against it
what you should know ABOUT AMENDMENT 64
IT'S BAD FOR OUR KIDS
• A new study says teens who regularly use marijuana have lower IQs long-term.
• People ages 12 to 17 are more likely to use marijuana in states that permit it than in states that don't, according to Columbia University research.
• In Colorado, a 2011 study found nearly 40 percent of high school students use marijuana. Nine percent of those kids tried it before they were 13.
• If the amendment passes, experts predict the number of regular users will at least double and likely triple in the most vulnerable 12 to 25 age range.
• Each year, 60 percent of all new marijuana users are under age 18.
• Treatment and addiction rates would rise. Marijuana dependency is the number one reason why teens in Colorado seek substance-abuse treatment. Reports show kids who try pot are two-to-three times more likely to use other drugs, including tobacco, cocaine and heroin.
• Since 2008, drug-related suspensions at Colorado public schools have increased 45 percent, which the CO Department of Education attributes to marijuana use.
• How do kids say "No to drugs" when adults don't? If parents use it, kids will too.
IT'S BAD FOR OUR COMMUNITY
• Today's marijuana is more addictive than ever -- it's 10-20 times more potent than during the 60's, according to nationwide tests of the drug.
• Colorado will be known as "Pot Capital, USA." In Denver alone, there are already more dispensaries than Starbucks, liquor stores or public schools, according to a 2010 Denver Post investigation. If legal, the number of dispensaries, growing and manufacturing facilities is expected to explode.
• A study estimates the state would generate $14 million a year and save law enforcement $12 million a year in the beginning, with up to $40 million a year in later years. However, opponents say that money will cover only 15% of the collateral costs to our community such as: increased drug treatment, emergency room visits, crime, traffic accidents and school 'drop-outs' to name just a few.
• Economic losses. A work force that regularly uses marijuana is tardy, calls in sick, has more on-the-job accidents and is less productive than non-using workers. Businesses would be less likely to stay or move into a state where drug use related risks are high, according to a report by Healthy and Drug Free Colorado.
• Deaths from impaired driving would increase. About 50 people are killed in traffic accidents every year by drivers in Colorado under the influence of marijuana. Experts predict the number of deaths would double.
• Supporters say marijuana would be regulated just like alcohol. But the federal government concludes the societal costs of treating alcohol and tobacco use far exceeds the revenue from taxing those drugs. The health cost from smoking cigarettes is about $7 per pack, while the revenue from taxing cigarettes is about $2 per pack, according to Ken Buck, District Attorney of Weld County.
• 80% of cities and towns across Colorado have already kicked out dispensaries because of crime, negative perception and lower property values. If Amendment 64 passes, suppliers could grow in residential areas as a Constitutional right.
• Recent studies find marijuana use may cause or worsen mental health problems. Two 2010 reviews say it may bring on the disorders or worsen symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis, particularly in young people.
• Despite what users claim, Children's Hospital Boston concludes marijuana is highly addictive. It affects vision, memory, motor coordination and judgment.
IT'S A CRIME
• Federal law bans marijuana in Colorado regardless of Amendment 64. If it passes, Colorado's recreational pot users will believe they're protected by law, but they may be subject to federal prosecution. The federal government could arrest users, sellers and buyers, according to the Colorado Independent.
• Crimes connected to medical marijuana have increased since it became legal for patients. Police say there will only be more burglaries, robberies, illegal pot rings and homicides if voters approve the ballot measure.
• Federal agents say international drug cartels are already in Colorado supplying, funding and running dispensaries. Agents expect cartels will expand their criminal operations if every adult is allowed to use marijuana in Colorado.
Commissioners' resolution opposing Amendment 64:
More from our Marijuana archive: "John Hickenlooper opposing marijuana Amendment 64, both sides react."
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