Word that Governor John Hickenlooper had signed Amendment 64 into law necessarily overshadowed the announcement of members assigned to a task force that will guide implementation of the act. But Christian Sederberg, who'll represent the A64 campaign in the group, thinks the process is off to a positive start.
Sederberg didn't lobby for a position on the task force -- see the full list of members below -- but wasn't surprised that he was chosen as what he calls "a good representative of the campaign." As he notes, "we'd met with them right after the amendment's passage, and they understood my role. They knew I'd worked on medical marijuana regulatory and legal issues, but also with the campaign itself, as a surrogate and adviser."
The 24 members of the task force are largely drawn from elected and government officials, supplemented by advocates like Sederberg. Overall, he believes the makeup of the committee represents "a good cross-section of people who are and will be stakeholders in the process going forward. With regard to the representation of marijuana issues specifically, there is an industry representative (Meg Sanders), a marijuana consumers representative (Craig Small) and a campaign representative -- me. Obviously, all three of us have different specific interests moving ahead, but I look forward to working with them on these issues.
"As far as the rest of the panel is concerned, I'm sure we'll have more feedback as we have an opportunity to talk, but I look forward to working with all of them in implementing Amendment 64 in a way that honors the will of the voters and is good for Colorado."
The task force's first meeting is scheduled for noon on Monday, December 17. In advance of that sit-down, Sederberg says he's already met with the group's co-chairs -- Jack Finlaw, Hickenlooper's chief legal counsel, and Barbara Brohl, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue -- "to discuss some important issues that we see moving forward. But I think the process will involve work groups. It sounds like there will be a number of them working on specific issues with the guidance of the task-force members themselves." In addition to the December 17 meeting, he expects "several meetings in January and February."
The tight scheduling makes sense, in his view. "We need to get something done quickly in order to meet the time frames in the amendment," he says.
As you know, Amendment 64 conflicts with federal drug policy -- and the Justice Department has not yet announced whether it will allow Colorado to shape its own marijuana destiny or intervene to block establishment of a retail system. But Sederberg sees no reason to wait until the feds get around to deciding on a course of action.
"I think it's important that we move forward with the process and honor the will of Colorado's voters, while also respecting and listening to all the legitimate concerns the federal government may express about this system," he allows. "With regard to being concerned about whether or not it's appropriate to move forward at this time, I think it's absolutely appropriate to move forward even though the federal government hasn't specifically opined about Colorado's implementation of Amendment 64 in order to address the immediate and crucial impacts of the amendment to the citizens of Colorado."
Meanwhile, Sederberg has no complaints about the governor's office announcing the signing after the fact in what appears to have been an effort to prevent a large public celebration of the sort that took place at Seattle's Space Needle when Washington state's Initiative 502 became law at midnight on December 6. He's more focused on the fact that Hick affixed his signature in early December rather than early January, as he could have done.
"I am very happy that the governor's office moved as quickly as they have to make it so that from this day forward, adults in Colorado are no longer subject to punishment for the use and possession of limited amounts of marijuana," he says. "I'm very happy he did it now, so we can end the arrests and have resolution to any pending cases immediately.
"I think the governor's office has handled this well. There have been a few minor bumps along the way, but all in all, they've put in place a task force that will be able to effectively and quickly address all the concerns of the stakeholders."
Here's the list of task force members and their affiliations.
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• Rep. Dan Pabon, appointed by the incoming Speaker of the House; • Sen. Cheri Jahn, appointed by the incoming President of the Senate; • Rep.-elect Dan Nordberg, appointed by the incoming House Minority Leader; • Sen.-elect Vicki Marble, appointed by the incoming Senate Minority Leader; • David Blake, representing the Colorado Attorney General; • Kevin Bommer, representing the Colorado Municipal League; • Eric Bergman, representing Colorado Counties Inc.; • Chris Urbina, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; • James Davis, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety; • John Salazar, the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture; • Ron Kammerzell, the Senior Director responsible for the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division; • Christian Sederberg, representing the campaign to pass Amendment 64; • Meg Sanders, representing the medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation industry; • Craig Small, representing marijuana consumers; • Sam Kamin, a person with expertise in legal issues related to the legalization of marijuana; • Dr. Christian Thurstone, a person with expertise in the treatment of marijuana addiction; • Charles Garcia, representing the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice; • Larry Abrahamson, representing the Colorado District Attorney's Council; • Brian Connors, representing the Colorado State Public Defender; • Daniel Zook, an at-large member from outside of the Denver area; • Tamra Ward, representing the interests of employers; and • Mike Cerbo, representing the interests of employees.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Amendment 64 is now law: Governor John Hickenlooper quietly signs measure."